Here are some examples of how my life has been simplified through the use of accessible web sites and IOS apps usable by folks needing a screen reader:
I can wake up to my phone’s alarm and check the weather.This task previously required a specialized Braille or talking watch and/or lock and use of radio or television for weather information.
I can pick out clothes using an app called Vizwiz which allows one to ask visual information about a photo, like “what color” is this blouse?” Previously this required buying Braille clothing tags and attaching to all ones clothes – tedious at best!
I can make breakfast. I used a new recipe in an accessible app called Big Oven, timed it with a timer app on my phone. This previously required purchase of Braille cookbooks which were very large, bulky, and expensive. Needless to say, my culinary horizons have greatly expanded.
I can listent to a webcast and take notes. Previously, this required getting transportation to the presentation and lugging a Braille notetaker. Now I use my netbook for the webcast and my phone with external keyboard and the Draftpad app to take notes.
I can organize my paper money. I use the Looktel Money Reader app, which reads aloud the denomination, then fold it as I return to my wallet. Previously this required a bulky, expensive machine.
I can shop for groceries and supplies. I use store apps to determine sales, review e-mails, and marking coupons, and I was able to order some things online and shop locally for others. Previously, little-to-no store sales info or coupons were accessible and lists were all in Braille – hard to share with sighted drivers!
I can watch a movie. I found a nearby cinema featuring a film with audio description, determined the showtime, and bought tickets via the Fandango app on my phone – an activity that previously this required several phone calls.
I could have easily come up with many more everyday examples, but I think you get the point! Accessibility of electronic information has greatly improved my life, cut my adaptive equipment expenditures, and literally lightened the weight of equipment I carry in my backpack. Hats off to developers who made this possible through accessibility!
Pat Pound is a disability consultant from Austin, Texas who has used technology for many years, starting a training unit for people who are blind in the ’80?s. She worked for the State of Texas for many years and shaped disability policy including information accessibility. She is now “retired” but that just means she only does work she likes! She is a weaver, game enthusiast, and has trained teachers of visually impaired kids regarding use of IOS devices. “My own blindness has lead me down many interesting paths and it’s such fun now to see how technology can improve our lives!”
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