Today is #WorldBrailleDay where we celebrate Braille Literacy and Learning!
We all know what Braille is....
We've seen it on just about every signage on doors, walls, and a multitude of other places.
While I was surfing Twitter I came across this tweet:
This made me sad, these teachers and counselors forget a major group that's usually dependent on Braille - the Deafblind.
Sure, there are some Deafblind individuals who can rely on their limited hearing for auditory input from audiobooks and screenreaders. Then there are some Deafblind who can read enlarged print (like myself). But that doesn't help those who don't have this capability.
Did you know that many Blind and Deafblind are lagging behind in school and colleges because their textbooks and materials aren't readily available in a Braille format? Thanks to technology like the refreshable braille display this problem is being remedied to a point.
These refreshable braille displays are not cheap - they range from $3,500 to $15,000, depending on the number of characters displayed. Some are complete "notetakers" with computing capabilities, while others plug into a USB port on your computer and acts as a keyboard/screenreader.
Thanks to an organization called iCanConnect - the National Deafblind Equipment Distribution Program - Deafblind individuals can obtain equipment and software to help "connect" with their family, friends and the world around them.
Deborah Kendrick summed up why we need Braille in her article in the Braille Monitor and I agree!
Can y'all help me out and support braille literacy through the Braille Institute?
Did you know that there's about 15.3% of adults in the United States who have trouble hearing, and 9.4% of adults who have trouble seeing?
So if these adults cannot access your website, you're losing customers.
Your Site's Readability
Several factors impede your potential clients ability to read your website.
Simple is better.
Lack of Subtitles or Captions
This is the number one complaint I've seen among the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. Even taking it to Social Media after "Guardians of the Galaxy 2" turned off their subtitles midway through their trailer.
Subtitles don't just benefit the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, they also benefit Seniors with hearing loss and consumers shopping online with their volume muted.
Please don't trust YouTube to do it for you by "automatic captioning" - watch one for yourself and you'll see they suck! It's easy to upload a written transcript, have Youtube sync it, then correct any timing errors.
Missing Alternate Text for Your Images
Almost every website has images, nothing wrong with that, but not providing alternate text is where you can go wrong.
Blind and visually impaired viewers would like to know what your pictures are about too.
Another inconvenience about images are about restaurant menus. Many blind and visually impaired people (including myself) likes to preview a restaurant's menu online before going to eat there. This is mainly due to restaurants having inaccessible menus - no braille or large print versions available. But many online menus are photos only and have no descriptions at all.
So offer alternate text versions of all your images for screenreaders and braille readers to access.
The older captcha system was inacessible to low vision users, screenreaders for the blind, and the Deafblind who could not see the visual clue nor hear the audio clue.
The newer Captcha systems are getting better nowadays (such as Google's ReCaptcha Reboot (the "I am not a robot" option).
So be sure to update your captcha system and offer accessible alternatives.
Verification Systems are Limited
When opening a new account, or posting something online, or when requesting account changes, many sites require user verification.
Some sites are great and offer options for contact - text, email, saved security questions, or phone options that we can chose from depending on our disability.
There's two Sites that have been a bane of mine for the last several weeks:
So please offer more ways for people with disabilities to verify themselves.
Using the Wrong Terminology
Using the wrong terminology to identify various people with disabilities can turn these people away from your site.
Before writing up an article, describing a product, or even inventing a product, please do your research. It's easy to "Google" a disability topic and read social media posts, blogs and support agency websites and pick up on the terminology used by that group.
For example, don't use the outdated "Deaf and Mute" to describe the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. Some don't even like the term "Hearing Impaired" either. Also don't go inventing your own terms to sound trendy like saying "hearingless".
Following these simple guidelines to prevent losing 18.1% of your potential customers. People with disabilities are a larger customer base than people with a Hispanic background (13.3%). So it's worth the investment to make these simple tweaks to your website for more clients.
It is a known fact that regular exercising and leading an active life helps improve both the physical and the mental health. Training on a regular basis can help reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes type II, obesity, stress, depression and anxiety, among others.
This is why, everybody, including people who are visually impaired should try to increase their physical activity, in order to prolong their lives and improve their overall health. Plus, for children and adults with visual impairment, exercising can improve their overall comfort and success of everyday movement and of the ability to better complete daily activities.
The recommended fitness types which can have a positive effect on the mind and body are:
Apart from taking part in various sports, tandem cycling, walking, running, swimming, going to the gym, there are ways to stay fit and active without leaving the premises of your home, safely and easily. Here are some types of exercise which visually impaired people can do at home or in their backyard, in order to improve their health:
1. Rope Jumping. It can be done indoors or outdoors, slowly or at a quick temp. This exercise helps improve the muscular and aerobic endurance, the balance and agility of the person. To stay safe, the area can be marked with bright colored cones, towels, mats or other marks limiting the safe space for jumping.
2. Yoga. The relaxation which is associated with Yoga can be very helpful to people who are deafblind or visually impaired and are often faced with stressful situations in their daily lives. Yoga helps improve the flexibility and helps with weight loss and building muscle strength. There are DVD’s, books, and classes which help these people learn and practice Yoga with Braille and physical instructions.
3. Basketball. The person can practice dribbling while they are sitting down, walking or running. Apart from regular outdoor basketballs, balls with bells or lighter beach balls can be used as a safer option. The basket can be marked with a string with a bell attached on it, a metronome placed behind it or with the help of a friend or family member who makes noises by hitting on the rim of the basket. This type of activity can even be done without a basket and just with a partner with whom to practice passes, catching, bounce or chess passes and other movements. It helps stay fit, improves balance and orientation and is fun!
Whatever form of exercise or activity a person who is deafblind or visually impaired chooses, it will definitely have a positive effect on their health, their mental state, as well as on their ability to move around and cope with everyday chores and activities. With this type of overall improvement, surely the quality of life will improve as well. The stress of not being able to cope with simple daily tasks and move round comfortable will decrease and the confidence of the person will show significant improvement too!
About the Author:
Cara Haley is addicted to running and healthy food, loves taking pictures, and hiking with her family. She writes about sports gear, running shoes, and other sports related topics for ComfortHacks.
July 1st will be this Site's 4 year Anniversary!
I'm calling all Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Deafblind, and Blind Artists, Photographers, Graphic Artists and the like for a CONTEST!
WHAT: A new Logo Cover - A new title cover for this site, a Facebook Cover, and a Thumbnail picture that represents Deaflbindness in a clear and positive way:
WHEN: Deadline to Submit - June 1st 2017 by Midnight CDT
REQUIREMENT: You must be Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Deafblind, or Blind by submitting some kind of proof - your social media information, youtube video, etc. I want to support my local disabled community please.
PROCESS: After June 1st submissions will be listed here on my Blog - up to 20 entries - if over 20 entries, I will whittle it down myself using the criteria listed above. (Any entries not following the criteria will be sent back with an explanation and a chance to try again.)
Then Viewers will get to vote for their favorite design.
The Winner will be revealed on July 1st on the 4th Anniversary!
LIMIT: One Entry per Person please.
PRIZE: A $15 E-Gift Card of your choice - see GiftCards.com
Good Luck & Have Fun!!
- Put your name in a corner of your artwork or photo.
- Include your email and 1 or 2 sentences describing your artwork and the concept behind it.
I realized I forgot to include a Submission Button!!
- Have received only 1 entry.
- Extended the Deadline to June 9th at Midnight CDT
- Changed requirements to include Parents & Family of Deafblind, Deaf, and Blind individuals.
Day 2 - Communication
Our means of communicating with others around us vary a lot. It really depends on a variety of factors: degree of loss, age of onset of loss, and personal preference.
I grew up being able to speak and communicate efficiently one-on-one for the most part, I can still do that but I prefer having an ASL interpreter for: important or complicated issues, groups, a far away speaker, and the like.
Another communication option is using a Braille computer with a communicator option that allows the user to connect via bluetooth with any iOs phone and message back and forth with another person.
Other ways are explained in this video below that is captioned for the "signing impaired". Just click the "CC" in the bottom right corner.
I hope this is educational so far, give me a shoutout for any more questions or information.
The last week of June is Helen Keller Deafblind Awareness Week as declared by President Ronald Reagan in 1984.
As I've said countless times, being Deafblind doesn't mean "totally deaf and totally blind", and people wonder how do we "live". So all week I will focus on a different topic and invite y'all into our world of being Deafblind. As you read these explanations just remember it's just part of our lives and we don't need sympathy or "amazement"
Day 1 - Getting Around
As I say, deafblindness varies in different degrees so the tools we use to get around vary as much as our vision and hearing loss. Some people don't need anything and can get around fine on their own, others prefer a white cane, a guide dog, or a sighted guide.
One technology tool one may use is a GPS App on our smartphone synced by Bluetooth to a BrailleNote to read directions in Braille. We can use this while walking or riding transit to determine where we are. A simpler method would be to have a business card holder holding cards with various destinations printed on them (as well as braille for the person to identify) to show the taxi or bus driver where you'd like to go.
Some deafblind individuals rather use SSPs (Support Service Providers) who basically are their eyes and ears. The SSP drives the individual around and guides them and relays all information to them - layout of the room, who's present, what's happening, and sometimes do basic interpreting (but are not permitted to do full interpreting). SSPs are available in only a few states, or even just a few cities. We need an expansion of this great program and somehow make it National.
If you ever get a chance to guide a deafblind person (or a person with blindness or low vision), here's a great video to teach you how to do this. Just keep in mind to ask if they need assistance first.
So if you have any questions about how deafblind people get around, just comment below and I'll be glad to answer.