Just like sighted people, blind and visually
impaired people need to be able to access all kinds of written
information. (This could be anything from a menu, newspaper
article, or phone listing to a catalogue or user manual). The
information needs to be made accessible.
In the past, printed information was not so accessible and we were
reliant upon various sources to gain that information. The access
depended upon whether or not we had people to read to us (living nearby who
were able to do this), knew braille
(if we had learnt it, and if the information was printed in
braille), or could still see large
print (if our eyesight was still good enough). Nowadays
however, overall accessibility is improving. With our ever
increasing thirst for knowledge, we have many more options now
than we did before. Traditionally, TV and radio have led the way
in putting written information into an audio format. The introduction of computers (and
other electronic items) with accessible features (such as large
print and screen readers), has seen information presented in a lot
more formats which makes it far more accessible than ever before.
As with any technology, accessibility still has a way to go (for
example ensuring that websites are screen reader friendly, or that documents are
produced in accessible formats such as doc or html etcetera). The
outlook however is promising.
Having access to information provides blind and visually impaired
people with a sense of independence.
Which formats are accessible?
Accessible formats include:
Braille is raised dots that a blind or vision
impaired person can feel (if they have learnt braille). Six dots
are used to make up the letters from A to Z. (Please visit my
braille page for more information). Basic braille Braille may be
commonly seen on bank ATM's and various signage (like bus stops,
toilet signs and taxis).
Audio can be spoken onto a tape (which can be
used in a cassette player) or recorded onto a CD. This audio
could include files such as wav or mp3. MP3 can be used in the new
talking book machines or go portable on a device such as an mp3
player. It can also be used in Windows media player on a computer.
Audio also includes screen readers on computers and other devices
(such as phones and answering machines) which can read out
information to you; and other digital formats that you can listen
to (such as video).
DAISY books (which are talking books that have
been produced in the daisy format), can be used in the new digital
talking book machines.
Electronic text includes files such as word/doc,
html and plain txt files. Lately, this could also include pdf
files (as long as they have been ocr 'd first), so they can be
read by a screen reader.
Large print - size 18 and above - is
recommended. Good clear text such as Arial is also recommended.
Good colour contrasts
High contrast combinations such as black on
white, white on black or yellow on black make text easier to see
for those who have some useful vision. CCTV's (which enlarge text
on a screen) also use good colour contrasts.
is an online website where you can enter a document and have it
converted into a variety of formats. Please visit the following
Daisy consortium is an
online website where you can create Daisy files and other
accessible formats. Please visit the following link http://www.daisy.org/tools/conversion