(T) Tactile Graphics for Blind and Visually Impaired People (#AToZChallenge 2021)

The 2021 blogging from a to Z April Challenge letter t graphic is on top center. Text below reads tactile graphics
The 2021 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge letter T graphic is available here.

My theme for the 2021 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is to give an overview of what it is like to be visually impaired. I also hope to address misconceptions regarding the blind and low vision community.

In this post I want to bring attention to tactile graphics. This allows people who are blind or have low vision access maps, graphs and drawings.

I have not had an opportunity to use these tools myself but I wanted to put this out there and I hope it will help others. These tools make math and science accessible and easier to grasp for those who are blind or have low vision.

Here are some helpful videos.

(A) Accessibility (#AToZChallenge 2021)

The blogging from a to Z challenge letter A graphic is on the image. The text below reads accessibility how restaurants entertainment and websites can become more accessible to those that are blind or have low vision
Blogging from A to Z April challenge letter A graphic can be found here.

When you are blind or have low vision it can be complicated to make your way through a world that is built for sighted people. It is a common feeling to feel out of place. I am here to say that although it is hard at times it is not an impossible task. The first point that should be addressed on this journey through a sighted world for a person who is blind or visually impaired is the aspect of accessibility. Here are some ways that society can make things more accessible for people that are blind or have low vision.

Restaurants 

There are several ways that restaurants can become more accessible to people that are visually impaired. First, they should have accessible menus. A menu in braille and a large print menu should be frequently updated and made available. It is also important to have an accessible website with an up to date menu as some visually impaired people prefer to refer to the site to access the menu. I am visually impaired myself and I prefer to look at the menu before I arrive at the restaurant. 

Menus4All is a good resource for restaurants to make their menus accessible.

Second, restaurants should try to offer seating areas that have the option to increase lighting. Low lit areas can be challenging for some people that have low vision. I am one of those people and I think that having adjustable lighting options in select seating areas would be helpful.

Third, restaurant management should train their staff on how to best assist a visually impaired person if necessary. The staff should be trained on how to provide sighted guide if it is ever needed and have a basic understanding of what it is like to be visually impaired.

Entertainment

Movies, TV shows, plays and even concerts and sports broadcasts can be made accessible to those that are blind or visually impaired by including audio description. Audio description is the narration of all the visual aspects of a scene such as the clothing characters are wearing to a detailed description of the scene. This helps to fill in the gaps that the dialogue will miss and helps provide a full experience of the show. Accessible show programs in braille and large print should be provided where applicable.

The Internet

The internet has become the gateway to all of the information for all aspects of life. It is very frustrating when a website is not fully accessible. Every site should be compatible with screen readers, they should offer the option to change the color contrast and they should be designed to be used with enlarged text. These points apply to apps as well. 

Some extra thoughts

These tips can be applied to any industry. I hope that accessibility can become more common and that there will be more education on the need for accessibility in all aspects of society. Everyone can play a part in making this world a more accessible place.

You can learn more about the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge here. Come back each day this month except on Sundays to read my next post for this series. Thank you for reading.

Spotlight: The Fashionability Channel Podcast

Fashionability channel podcast

Fashion and accessibility definitely go together and there has recently been a push to make the fashion scene more inclusive when it comes to people with disabilities. Today I want to tell you about a podcast that will be your guide to accessible style.

The Fashionability Channel podcast is hosted by Emily Davison and Laura Legendary.

You will get helpful advice and inspiration on fashion and accessories with a focus on accessibility. You will get great insights into how the two worlds come together in a fun and fashionable way.

How to Make Household Items Accessible to Those that are Blind or Visually Impaired

Image shows a black microwave. Text on image reads how to make items accessible to those that are blind or visually impaired

Picture this, you are about to heat up your lunch in the microwave but you realize that you are not able to see the buttons. Well this is what a person who is blind or has low vision (is visually impaired) deals with when they use a microwave with a touch screen interface. The lack of tactile feedback makes it impossible to know what button is being pressed. There are many other instances where adaptations must be made to be able to interact with the norms of a sighted world. There are solutions to these problems and it is possible for a person who is blind or visually impaired to be very independent at home and around the community. Today, i want to share some helpful tips to make appliances and other household items accessible to those who are blind or have low vision. I am visually impaired myself and can fully relate to the frustrations that come with dealing with inaccessible items.

How to Make Appliances Accessible

The majority of appliances that are made now from microwaves to washing machines are made with a touch screen interface. I appreciate the technological advances that have been made but the accessibility is far behind. The good thing is that there are practical solutions for this problem that make these appliances fully accessible. Below is a photo of a microwave with bump dots on the buttons.

a black microwave with bump dots on numbers 1, 3 and 0 and the start and stop buttons. The dots are clear

Bump dots come in different sizes and colors including clear dots. These dots resemble buttons and are safe to put on appliances and can be removed with no damage at any time. These dots provide tactile markings to help someone identify buttons on a touch screen interface. Bump dots can be used to mark buttons on a microwave, heat levels on a stove and to mark buttons on a washing machine. I have put bump dots on my microwave putting clear dots to mark the numbers 1,3 and 0 as well as the start and stop buttons. This allows me to use the microwave independently.

How to Make Food Items Accessible

Locating food in the refrigerator or cans in a pantry can become a hard task when you can not see. A lot of things can be identified by touch but when it comes to cans and boxes it becomes more complicated. There are apps available that are able to read text on items to help identify them. Apps such as Supersense which is available for Android and Apple users is very helpful for this task. Those that are not fans of technology can use braille labels or large print labels to label these items.

How to Make Bathroom Items Accessible

Sharing a bathroom with a number of others can become complicated when it comes to storing and possibly sharing items. I live with my family and a tip i can give here is to keep your toothbrush in a different place so you don’t accidentally use someone else’s. When you share shampoo and conditioner it is hard to keep these bottles in the same place as they may be often moved by others. One tip is to put a rubber band on one of the bottles so you know what is what.

Some Extra Thoughts

I hope that these tips can help you be more independent if you are visually impaired or if you know someone who is you can pass these tips along. Here is one extra laundry tip; save yourself the trouble of having to match socks by pinning them together before you wash them, fold your socks together before throwing them in the hamper.

Share how you make your home more accessible in the comments below.

* This post is not sponsored by any of the products mentioned above. All views are my own.

A Blind Journalist shares 5 Tips to Keep in Mind when Working with a Blind Employee

A few accommodations can go a long way when you are seeking to include a blind or visually impaired person in the workplace.

A scene of an office meeting with multiple colleagues
Photo Source: Free-Photos via Pixabay

Lucy Edwards is a UK based broadcaster, Youtuber that also happens to be blind. She made a video discussing the accommodations that help her do her job as a journalist. I want to point out that every person that has a vision impairment is unique and may need different things. I think that this video gives a general overview of what is commonly helpful in these situations.

I hope that more workplaces will take these first steps to inclusion and consider expanding their group to include people with disabilities.