When people mention the digital divide, they are generally referring to gaps in access to technology between rich and poor countries or between rich and poor people. However, there is also a very real digital divide between the disabled and non-disabled. The blind in particular face difficulties in using certain technologies. It is impossible for a blind person to read information on a traditional computer screen or to look at images online. A blind person can’t use soundless touch screens because they can’t feel the keys. Most people don’t consider the visually impaired when designing new websites and technology, and this precludes the blind from accessing the same information as others. As the world becomes increasingly technologized, this puts the blind at a huge disadvantage.
But is new online technology all bad news for the visually impaired? Is there any way it can be utilized to improve the lives of blind people? ICT4D looks at ways in which technology can improve welfare and equality. Improving access for the disabled in wealthy and poor countries is an important part of ICT4D. This article discusses ways technology has both helped and excluded the blind.
Read the article here
Some important points:
- Most websites don’t use proper naming formats for pictures and data so the blind can’t access certain information
- Even websites that comply with regulations for blind users have not been tested and are often unworkable
- Texts to ensure website users are human and not machines can’t be used by the blind
- Touch screen phones (excluding the iphone) are hard to use
- There have been a lot of improvements in making websites blind accessible
- The new iphone has technology incorporated so information can be read aloud to users
- Audio books are more easily accessible online. This makes it far easier to read than it would be with a brail book