Things I would like to see - Blind and low vision related


I would like to see more money spent on eye research so blindness related conditions might become a thing of the past. It is good to see research into bionic eyes, and research into how stem cell research can hopefully get the eyes going again.

Is captcha really needed on your website?

I would like to see other accessible alternatives used instead of captcha which is used on websites. These captchas are either in a text format (which is hard to see even for the elderly) or in an audio format. If you have a hearing problem, it makes it quite hard to hear and work out the captcha when spoken out. Most of these audio captchas are not clear enough to work out. People who can be affected by these captchas may be the elderly, dyslexics, people with reading problems or vision problems (including the visually impaired, blind and deaf blind). A person using a braille display will not be able to work out the text captcha or the audio one either. There are other alternatives that could be used on websites instead of captcha (for example using an email verification process and so on). When considering using Captcha on your website, ask yourself is it really needed or is there a viable alternative instead (that won’t affect as many people)?

Accessibility guidelines taught as part of web design and software design

I would like to see in the education system like universities etcetera, the importance of why guide lines should be followed. This is for both software developers as well as website developers. I would like to see units/papers created where these standards have to be met. In the units/papers, they should also cover about screen readers or adaptive devices that someone with a disability may use to navigate their software or website with.

In the practical part, where the student goes to design a program or website, they should be shown what happens when these guide lines are not followed. For example with a screen reader on a website, if photos, buttons, graphics, formatting of headings etcetera are not used, then show them the difference that is made when they are.

There should be universal design standards in education, so a person who uses a screen reader online to learn is not hindered. (This can occur where the basic accessibility guide lines have not been followed when designing these programs or websites and screen reader users cannot access that same information due to lack of labelling etcetera).

More widespread public terminal access

I would like to see more access to public terminals that the sighted public use. At present if there is a public terminal where a sighted person can go up and use it (such as at information centres, libraries etcetera) a person who is blind or needs magnification to use those terminals cannot use them without some type of adaptive technology. With Windows 7 and above, with full screen magnification, this may help some people that need text enlarged, but it may not help someone who is blind/visually impaired or dyslexic. A free alternative to the second problem can be to install the NVDA screen reader. This is available from The New Zealand public library network (APNK known as Aotearoa People’s Network Kaharoa) is leading the way with the installation of the NVDA screen reader. It is installed on over 750 public library computers, at over 150 libraries throughout New Zealand. To find out where your nearest APNK library is please visit It would be great to see this installed in polytechnics and universities etcetera.

Smart devices

I would like to see more visually impaired and blind people change over from their old tactile phones, that might have included Talks© etcetera to one of the new smart phones which are on the market now. The new smart phones may benefit you a lot more than the old phones. It may take a little time to learn a new skill like using a smart touch phone, but in the end it will be worth it. It is wise to learn the gestures for your device, so you know how to navigate the device and also learn the layout for each app you might want to use on that device. Don’t give up - you will get there and it will be worth it in the end!

As a visually impaired person there are some things I would like to see both from the perspective of accessibility as well as adaptive technology.  These things may not only help visually impaired people or blind people, they may also help dyslexics as well or even the elderly. This may vary from person to person as to what their needs are at that time.

Ever since Apple incorporated accessibility into their devices (such as I phones, I pads etcetera) they have been setting a standard for what should be in a device. You will need to check under the accessibility section on the device to see what accessibility options there are (for example a screen reader, magnification and so on). All aspects of the phone are well labelled throughout their devices. This may change on third party applications that don’t come with the devices.  These devices are blind friendly straight out of the box.

I would like to see the same for the Android devices.  I would like to see all parts of these devices labelled. Even though the operating system is well labelled, sadly not all applications that come with these devices are.   Android devices have been making leaps and bounds in each new release of the operating system.

I would like to see in Windows phones the ability to use a screen reader on those phones. Even though there was screen reader software you could buy for the phone, the price was on top of the phone. The only alternative for the blind on a Windows 8/10 phone is Narrator. Hopefully in the future, other screen readers will be able to go onto these phones (for example NVDA).

Adaptive technology

I would like to see the price of adaptive technologies come down. With the invention of smart phones some of these things are happening. Some of these things are as follows: Colour identifier software, so we know what colour clothes we are wearing; Software that turns your smart phone into a portable magnifier; Software (OCR) which allows us to take a picture of a document and have it read out to us; Some GPS software that can get us from one location to another and give us turn by turn instructions. (Some of them will even let you know what number of a house you are at and what street you are on). There are plenty more apps out there that could help a visually impaired or blind person at home and abroad.  The blind or low vision person just needs to take the first step and learn a new skill.

Braille displays

I would like to see the prices on braille displays come down. At present, they are out of most visually impaired/blind people’s price range. In these cases, if someone funds the braille display or they save up for it themselves then they will gain access to one, however most blind/visually impaired people will not get to use one - mainly because of the cost involved.
Having a book in braille takes up a lot of room where an electronic document in braille doesn’t; But you would need a braille display for this and the person needs to know braille first.
I guess if the prices come right down on them, then more blind (and/or vision impaired people) will use them.

Learning braille

I would like to see more people (both blind and with low vision) learn basic braille (that is Grade One braille). They only need to learn the basics of braille, so it can help them either at home or in the community. For example marking a light switch if there are extra switches on them like using the braille letters S and L to say that switch is for a spot light or braille H and T or a Heat Transfer switch.  This could also be used for the elements on your stove (RF for right front, and RR for right rear etcetera).

Maybe the introduction of new displays might do this. These displays might let you feel the braille letters on a document in an A4 size document. For example the BliTab.

Movie theatres

I would like to see more movie theatres around the world have the technology in them where a person with a visual impairment or a hearing problem are able to go to a movie theatre if the movie either has sub titles or audio description as tracks, meaning the person watching the movie can enjoy it like everyone else. At present I believe this type of technology is not in New Zealand, but can be found in other countries.

More text to speech

I would like to see electronic devices come out with text to speech technologies built into them. This would be great if there was a button on the device to enable the text to speech feature or have it disabled for the sighted when not required. This type of technology has been put into smart phones, but could be extended to other devices. For example home phones where the minimum standard is being able to know what numbers you have pushed, going through the address book and having names spoken out and talking caller ID like in the Uniden SEE 25 and 27.  Having a home phone that could speak every menu on the phone would be awesome.

I would like to see more text to speech technology built into TV sets. The minimum standard is that the TV would speak the title of the show and time slot, the short description of what that show is about that night, and also knowing what is on next. Being able to cycle through the different sources and knowing what they are should be built into the TV’s. It would be even better if the TV guide was spoken as well. Panasonic have brought out a range of TV’s with these standards and this is a selling point to a blind person. The feature is called voice guidance. I would like to see this type of technology expanded to other manufacturers who make TV sets, but increase a lot more of what is spoken out (for example being able to access other parts of the TV set with voice guidance. It is great to see that TV sets have the option for audio description built into them. This allows the visually impaired or blind person (when the show is audio described) to know what is happening on the show in the quiet scenes. In New Zealand this has been happening since March 2011 with TV’s that have this option, but only on channels 1 and 2 plus 1+1 an hour later and 2 + 1 an hour later.

There could be different technologies the text to speech software could be put into (for example a washing machine with text to speech so that we could use every feature on it). Personal video recorders, satellite receivers, stereos and so on. What could help us could also help a dyslexic person as well.

I guess the best places to ask for advice on this type of idea would be a blind foundation or dyslexic foundation (etcetera) to get ideas of what products this type of technology could be put into.

Audio description

I would like to see more TV channels show audio described content on them. At present there are only 2 channels that may air audio described content which is channel 1 and 2 in New Zealand. I would love to be able to watch other channels like Channel 3, Prime etcetera with the shows also being audio described. I guess this is something people in other countries would like to have happen as well with their TV broadcasters (if it hasn’t been introduced already).

Online streaming services with audio description

I would like to see more online streaming services take on the initiative to have the option to hear certain shows with audio description. Before April 2015, this was not even an option in New Zealand (until Netflix came to New Zealand). Before this, there was no online service in New Zealand that would provide online streaming with audio description. You would be breaking the law if you were to watch this type of content with audio description on a streaming service (for example the BBC I player).

This is one of the services that Netflix offers to the blind, the other is for the hearing impaired. For more information please go to

As at February 2016, there is no other online streaming service in New Zealand that offers this kind of service. The only place on line that I am aware of in New Zealand that may do this for their content is the Attitude Live website. This can be found at

Apart from Attitude Live, there are no on demand services that do this in New Zealand. I would like to see it happen so what you saw on the TV with audio description would also be the same online with audio description. Also, I would like to see the player (which is used online to play the content) accessible to a screen reader as well.  Sadly at present (March 2016) the software to click on to play or pause the movie or show, is not really accessible to a screen reader user. This is when compared to the Netflix version or the BBC I player version which are both accessible.

I would like to see other on demand services (like Channel 3 NZ etcetera) be able to do the same thing.

Live theatres increase availability of audio description

I would like to see more live theatres have the option for audio description also, so that a blind/visually impaired person can follow what is happening on the stage.

Audio description as an option in museums

I would like to see maybe an option at museums where we can pay a guide to audio describe some of the stuff they are showing off in an exhibition. They would need to know how to do this correctly. Being able to touch some of the exhibitions helps the visually impaired/blind person to get a better picture of what they are looking at. We know this cannot be done in certain exhibitions, but a good description may help.  Not all of us will have a sighted guide and the person may not know how to describe properly what he or she is seeing.

More employment opportunities for blind people

I would like to see more visually impaired and blind people of working age employed and not be looked at as a safety hazard in a working environment. We can do the job if only the employer gives us a chance.  We can get funding for equipment that may be required to help us do the job.

Audio cues on public transport

I would like to see all trains and buses in the public sector being able to give audio cues of our next stop / or stops on our journey.  This can be a bit of hit and miss in different parts of the country - let alone the world.

Text to speech in banks automatic teller machines

I would like to see more automatic teller machines be accessible to the visually impaired and blind where ever these are in the world. At present without text to speech software put onto them, so the visually impaired or blind person can hear what he/she is doing, that machine may not be accessible to them. Even though there are ATM’S (Automatic Teller Machines) out there that have braille tactile markings, there are only a very small percentage of us who know braille. The rest of us don’t.

Large print menus

I would like to see more large print menus out in every community, so people with low vision or the elderly are able to read them. This is in shops where you have a menu to look at to order your food.

Easy to see signs and labels

I would like to see labels or signs in shops in large print, high colour contrast and easy to see. If it is easy to see then it is more likely to get noticed and the customer is more likely to know it is there. This applies for not only blind/vision impaired people, but also for people with dyslexia as well as the elderly.

OCR your documents and mailers if they are in a PDF format

I would like to see more businesses that have a website (where they provide a PDF document to their customers – for example The Warehouse mailer) make sure that it has been OCR’ed first. OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition. Without the PDF being done correctly, when the person goes to read it with a screen reader, it will say it is a blank document. I would like to see more documents being accessible and structured properly. Again, the more accessible your website and its documents are, the wider your audience and potential customers may be as well.

Digitise written material

I would like to see more of the written word be available in a digital format. At present, there is a vast wealth of written books that we cannot read unless we scan in and OCR every page in that book.