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, April 12, 2010

Can We Keep Up with Technology?

by Donna J. Jodhan

It's the story of our lives as blind and visually impaired persons. The constant struggle to keep up with technology is not going to change for the near or even distant future. True it is that there have been significant strides in the past two decades but it does not seem to be quite enough.

When I look back to two decades ago, we were using the beginnings of screen reading technology to work in mainframe environments but since then we have seen the arrival of so many different types of screen reading software, magnifying software and hardware, and self voicing browsers.

In the good old days technological barriers did not seem to be as important as they are today simply because technology over two decades ago was still very much in its infancy. Today however, the landscape has changed dramatically and everywhere we turn there seems to be technological barriers facing us. A little over two decades ago we did not have things to contend with such as the Internet, cell phones, PDAs and other hand held devices, digital devices, and so on. Today, the picture is very much different and forecast for technological growth is one of tremendous spirals with no turning back.

There is no doubt that huge steps have been made in the access technology arena but unfortunately and sad to say, these steps could be seen as pitifully small in comparison to the evolution of mainstream technology. It just seems as if every time there is a breakthrough in the access technology arena, it is quickly wiped out by huge gains in the mainstream technology arena. Sounds familiar? So, how can we work to make these gaps narrower and more manageable?

For one thing, we could start to lobby various levels of government and we can do this by coming together to draw up a plan that is filled with justification and common sense. We need to bear in mind that when we approach the big boys we need to do it constructively, logically, and methodically and we can do this by plotting a straight and narrow path. Above all, we need to develop a strategy that shows others that if we are given the tools to keep up with technology, it would not only benefit us, but many others. For the one thing that I learned from my wise old dad was this: If you want to identify a problem, you can gain valuable points by suggesting a solution and show how it would benefit not just yourself, but others as well.

The path to keeping up with technology is not going to be easy. It will mean engaging in several tasks simultaneously such as: Developing a plan, lobbying the necessary levels of governments and companies, interacting with hardware and software developers, and most importantly of all; convincing them that the plan stands to create a win-win situation for all stakeholders. What would be a very great and pleasant shock is if we can somehow pull this off.

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate 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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