How can one make information more available to blind and partially sighted persons?

Hello everyone:
Each month I will be responding to a question; chosen from a pool of some of
the most commonly asked ones that I have been asked over the years and
continue to be asked.
This month, I’d like to respond to the following question:
How can one make information more available to blind and partially sighted
persons?

There used to be a time not too long ago when the traditional ways of
providing information to blind and partially sighted persons were through
Braille, large print, and on cassette. Luckily for blind and partially
sighted persons, this has all changed and now there are other ways for the
sighted world to provide information to us.

Gone are the days when we had to depend on bulky books of Braille to obtain
information. Gone are the times when we had to carry around a tape recorder
and a stack of cassettes in order to interact with information and goodbye
are the days when we had to depend on large print texts in order to keep up
with information. Let us say hello to the following methods that the
sighted world can now use in order to provide us with information.

First, through websites. Information can be provided to us through web
content that is accessible and readable. That is, text based content,
graphics and icons that are properly tagged with textual equivalents, and
links that are meaningfully named and easy to navigate.

Second, through files and documents that are in such formats as: Word, RTF,
TXT, HTML, and PDF that has been appropriately tagged. This is all referred
to as alternate or alternative format.

Third, files and documents can also be provided in the above formats on any
of the following media: On CD, via email (imbedded in the email itself or
as attachments), or via the MP3 way.

Blind and partially sighted persons can use a regular computer that is
equipped with access technology software to read their info. They can
either use screenreading technology with voice output or screen
magnification software. They can also use book readers that have been
developed with special access technology software to read CDs and MP3 files.
These machines have been developed with voice output software to help them
communicate with menus. In other words, these machines speak when buttons
are pressed and a blind person can hear whichever commands and options they
choose.

So there you have it in a nutshell. This is how the sighted world can go
about providing information to blind and partially sighted persons.

I’m Donna J. Jodhan wishing you a great weekend.

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