It’s no secret that the internet has made the world a much smaller place. From the chat rooms and forums of the early 90’s to the major social media networks of today, the internet has helped bring people of all backgrounds and interests together to form communities. While this type of connectivity can be life-changing for people of all walks of life, it is especially useful for visually impaired individuals who are looking to connect with others going through similar experiences.
Through the use of screen readers and internet accessibility options, the visually impaired are able to use many of the same social media sites that the sighted enjoy – not just to keep in touch with friends and family, but also to create awareness. For example, through her very popular blog The Blind Cook, visually impaired chef Christine Ha not only shares her love of food – she also creates awareness and proves that there isn’t anything the visually impaired can’t do!
Social media is also bringing together the parents of visually impaired children. For example, many parents of blind children have created blogs such as Leading the Blind to share their story with the world. Not only do such blogs help create awareness, but they also have become a support system for parents who are looking to connect with others that are learning to manage similar difficulties. Pinterest has also become an excellent forum for such parents – there are hundreds of boards dedicated to toys, activities and educational materials for visually impaired children.
Twitter has also become an excellent place for the visually impaired to not only connect with others, but also to spread awareness. For example, through our Twitter handle @IBMilwaukee, we’ve had the opportunity to connect with hundreds of visually impaired individuals, likeminded nonprofits and organizations and accessibility advocates by using hashtags such as #a11y.
Thanks to such accessibility advocates, the web is becoming more blind-friendly by the day. For example, Audioboo is an audio-focused social network that is focused on helping blind people connect with others via audio. As one user states, “It’s amazing how you can start actually building up a community with people you’ve never even met before… to hear that positive feedback from people has been amazing.”
We at Industries for the Blind – Milwaukee are eager to continue using social media to bridge the gap between such communities and spreading awareness amongst both the sighted and visually impaired across all of our social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube and our blog.
If you’re a web-savvy visually impaired individual, we’d love to hear from you – what websites do you find most helpful? What accessibility features do you hope to be able to utilize in the near future? Share with us in the comments section!