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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Friday, September 10, 2010

The Problem with Inaccessible Products

by Donna J. Jodhan

As I see it, there are two important things that make a product inaccessible.

  1. When the product does not have audio cues.
  2. When there are no accompanying manuals in alternate formats.

A product may have audio cues but if the cues are not enough to make it possible for a blind person to use it independently, then it is not accessible. This example can be used in the case of several hand held language dictionaries that are only half way accessible. That is, only part of the command is spoken or only certain menus are audible. In other words, there is no audible sound when keys are pressed and an audible response is only heard after the enter button is pressed. This is what I call halfway accessible.

If a product is accompanied by a manual that is not in alternate format, then it is not accessible. Or, if a product is accompanied by an incomplete manual or a manual that does not cover the entire set up of the product, then it is deemed to be inaccessible. To make things less confusing, here is the picture.

For a product to be completely accessible, a blind or disabled person must be able to both use it and set it up or install it independently. No sighted assistance unless the product is difficult to maneuver. There also needs to be accompanying manuals in alternate formats; Braille, large print, CDs with no PDF formats or files in PDF format, and other types of audio formats.

I have seen strides toward making products more accessible but we need more manufacturers to join the trend towards making products more accessible.

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and encouraging you to go out there and tell the world that yes indeed! Blind persons can certainly enjoy things by using their sense of touch. 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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