So near but yet so far away

Hello there!  I’m Scott Savoy, editor of writing services at
Today, I am delighted to share an editorial with you written by our president Donna J. Jodhan.  In this editorial, Donna talks about how near technology is for the mainstream person, but yet so far away for blind and visually impaired persons.  Please read on.
I wish you a great weekend.

So near but yet so far away
By Donna J. Jodhan
A few months ago I attended the CSUN conference in Los Angeles California where I co-presented a paper on the Framework to support online evaluation of information credibility
by blind screenreader users.  It was a great presentation if I could say so and after all was said and done my friend and I decided to visit the exhibit hall to catch up on the latest and greatest inventions and breakthroughs.  There was much to see and many people to meet and greet but at the end of it all I came away feeling very sad.  I should have been feeling quite exhilarated, but no!  I was feeling very sad and why was this?
Despite the fact that many companies are doing their best to introduce breaking technology that would help us to become more savvy at keeping up with technology, the Internet, and more, I realize that no matter how many devices there are for us to choose from the important thing to remember is that 99.99% of them are almost out of our reach.  They are simply too pricy for the majority of blind and visually impaired Canadians to afford.  Shocker or shaker you ask?  Absolutely neither of the above.  With well over 80% of blind and visually impaired Canadians presently unemployed, and over 70% of disabled Canadians presently living below the poverty line, devices like the ones that I saw at the exhibit hall are simply out of reach and are at best just a dream or a dim glimmer of hope. 
 I got the opportunity to see several variations of Braille displays.  I also saw one of the newest hot sellers, the Icon.  I also saw several pieces of access software designed to make cell phones more accessible and yes!  I saw the newest release of the KNFB reader.  I also took time to drop by the APH booth and was quite impressed with their display.  There was so much to see and investigate and overall it took me and my friend over two hours to cover the entire exhibit hall and even at that we were not able to see everything.
I was really glad that I had been able to see so much in such a short space of time but as I said at the start of this editorial, I came away feeling very sad.  For really and truly, how will the majority of blind and visually impaired Canadians ever be able to take advantage of all of this spanking new technology?  The least expensive Braille display that I saw cost $2500 US and the most expensive cost over $5000 US.  Most of the other products that I saw ranged between these two limits.  At the best of times most of us can reach out and barely touch these devices with our fingertips but at the end of the day we will probably never be able to pick them up and take them home because we would probably never have the funds to pay for them.
Could it be possible that in the not too distant future blind and visually impaired Canadians may have a decent chance to become proud owners of some of these nifty devices?  Or maybe this could only happen for tomorrow’s generation?  Or thinking more realistically, probably never?  It’s simply not good enough for us to just be able to dream.  We need to start taking steps to convince our government to become more proactive at making these devices more readily available to us.  We need to become more vocal about our needs but above all we need to tell our government that the time has come for them to design and develop a technology plan whereby disabled Canadians will be able to take better advantage of breaking technology.  
I’m Donna J. Jodhan wishing you a terrific day and weekend.
To reach me, please send an email to and I would be delighted to send you an electronic copy of our latest newsletter.
Here is a complete list of where you can view Donna’s blogs and editorials.
Donna Jodhan!  Advocating accessibility for all 
a weekly feature on important answers to consumers concerns
Weekly blogs for language professionals and accessibility consultants
A monthly editorial on issues on diversity
a monthly editorial on business issues and concerns 
weekly editorials on accessibility issues in Canada
Editorials:  An International perspective on issues of accessibility and disability (under the editorials section, an international perspective)
A general perspective on issues of access and accessibility 

About Donna Jodhan

Donna Jodhan is an award winning blind author, advocate, sight loss coach, blogger, podcast commentator, and accessibility specialist.
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