Times have been changing very fast, and perhaps not necessarily in a good way for the blind community. Back when I was going to high school, I felt like there was nothing inaccessible to me. Sure, there literally were things inaccessible to me, but there were easy work arounds for them: Need a text book? Go to get a braille book, or sign up for RFB&D. Need a graph displayed for you? Get a raised line graph mailed to you. Sure,, it wasn’t suuuper ideal, but there was this sense of not feeling left out amongst your peers in the mix: maybe partially due to, people being more social? Who knows. But in the years to come, blind and visually impaired people have been getting the shaft as far as inclusivity goes with technologically and social media, and I think I just figured out why.
SO MANY DANG PICTURES!!
Like, I think this goes with lack of communication too, but everyone started communicating with pictures instead of actually talking and explaining things. Everyone is jacked into their devices, and Facebook is flooded with gifs and tumblr images, instead of actual text posts. Sure, sometimes people accompany their picture’s with text, but it’s never explaining the picture: It’s always something vague like “Oh hey, I look cute today!” or something like that instead of explaining what the picture is. I’m not saying they have to do this, but it’s just something that was a sort of light bulb moment for me after I read an article about Facebook unveiling their AI software to describe pictures to the blind, and someone saying it made them feel more connected to their friends because it describes pictures.
I never used to feel like I was left out of something because of my disability but in this technological age, where everything evolves so quickly, it’s hard not to feel that way. And, to add salt to the wound, every major advancement is usually on Apple’s platforms: I’m glad they’re so readily adapting for blind users, but for users like me who can’t afford an iDevice, having the older versions of the devices being the same price as the newer ones, and Assistive Technology funds being iffy about giving you funds to buy an iDevice (which I find ironic, because they’re fine with you spending 5000 dollars on a Braille display), the dream of having things be just as accessible to us from the get go unless you pay another version of the blind tax.
I will say: Netflix is doing a great job at being accessible to blind users. They recently signed an agreement to make their platforms all fully accessible to the blind, and they have said they are working on getting more audio description to their catalog. They plan to try and get audio description as soon as something is released, and if they can’t have description within 30 days of the show being released. It’s a really nice step in the right direction, and I’m glad to see that Netflix didn’t have to be sued to get this done (they first had audio descriptions added to Daredevil last year after complaints, as opposed to Apple having to be sued to include accessibility).
So yeah, idk, it’s just been bothering me lately. When will the world truly be equal for everyone? Will it ever be? Who knows: I feel like we’re going to have to work towards it as a society, instead of just expecting companies to know what to do. We’re all going to have to help them get things done more quickly, and actually include accessibility in their products from the get go: it’s a lot easier than they realize if they include it as soon as they release a product and build upon that, instead of throwing it in after the fact and having to build around their pre-existing software.