Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Monday, November 09, 2009

The Blind Are More Exposed to Identity Theft

by Donna J. Jodhan

I am making this observation because, as a blind person, I can see where this particular group is one of the most vulnerable when it comes to identity theft. True it is that seniors and persons with other types of disabilities run a very close second, but please allow me to explain a bit further.

As a person with precious little vision, I have to depend on my sighted family and friends to help me navigate through mounds of paper and generated forms and when it comes to filling out those cumbersome online forms that's a whole new ball game.

Each time I need to complete hard copy forms, it means that I have no choice but to share personal and confidential information with someone else and it means that I have to trust that person to keep my information private and confidential. I have to trust that the information I give is what is going to be written down exactly as I wish it to be and that the person completing information on my behalf will not copy that information on a separate piece of paper for their later use. In addition, I have to trust that the person reading the information to me is reading exactly what is there and not reading something else that they may choose to make up.

When it comes to completing those cumbersome and complicated online forms, I have to depend on either my screen reader software to tell me exactly what is being required or if that is not possible, I have to depend on sighted assistance. At the present time, screen reader software still faces many challenges when it comes to being able to decipher the contents of forms and why is this? Because many website developers do not take the time to ensure that the forms have been designed to be accessible and usable. Just think of it in this way: If sighted persons have difficulty completing forms online then the challenge for someone who is blind or visually impaired becomes twice or thrice as difficult.

So, the picture is this: If I am unable to complete forms on my own then I need to depend on a person with sight to help me and then I have to place complete trust in that person to read accurately to me and write accurately for me. This puts me in a very vulnerable position and opens me up to identity theft. There is a growing demand for forms to be provided in alternate formats and what this means is this: Forms need to be provided in a format whereby blind and visually impaired persons will be able to read and complete their own forms independently. If you would like to learn more about alternate formats, click this link: This Canadian-based company provides alternate formats to those who are print-disabled which include the blind and visually impaired.

I'm Donna J. Jodhan, an accessibility and special needs business consultant wishing you a terrific day. If you'd like to learn more about me, then you can visit some of my blog spots at:
Donna Jodhan! Advocating accessibility for all:
Weekly Saturday postings on issues of accessibility:
blogs on various issues and answers to consumers concerns:

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