Greetings! I’m Christian Robicheau and it’s shaping up to be another pleasant winter weekend. February is here; a short month and hopefully it will help us to feel a bit better about ourselves.
Today, I am pleased to introduce an editorial by our president Donna J. Jodhan. Here now is Donna and I wish you a great weekend.
The information barrier
By Donna J. Jodhan
I don’t think that this topic would come as a shocker or shaker to anyone within the blind and visually impaired community but sad to say, it just might within the sighted world. There are so many of our sighted friends and associates who still do not understand when we complain that information barriers still exist for us and that they are very mountainous. The majority of websites are still guilty of not granting us equal access to information. Companies and organizations still continue to send out information in printed formats that are still not accessible to us and reachable by us. Important emergency procedures are still not in alternate formats that we can read and manuals that come with equipment and appliances are still not being produced in alternate formats.
For some inexplicable reason, websites continue to offer forms and downloadable files in PDF formats and even our Federal government is guilty of the same. Many websites are still offering forms that are not totally accessible to us. We are already living in a world of darkness so to speak but the information barrier makes our world even darker. Everyone needs information in order to keep up with their surroundings, learn, and understand. We are living in an information based society and as blind and visually impaired persons it is imperative that we have equal access to information. Inadequate access to information on the Internet means that we are unable to independently garner knowledge and we need to depend on sighted assistance to help us. Inaccessible forms means that we are unable to take full advantage of e commerce opportunities and access information that requires us to complete forms in order to receive information. Inaccessible forms also mean that we are unable to apply for jobs and funding and as a result we need to again depend on sighted assistance.
If procedures, especially emergency procedures are not available to us, then we have to again depend on sighted assistance and in addition, we are often at the mercy of kindness and compassion on the part of others. Nowadays, there is no excuse for not being able to make information available in a format that we can read. Information is almost always developed electronically so why can’t society in general take that extra little step to make it available to us? Via email, or in other alternate formats? It is time for us to make a committed effort to break down the information barrier.