The Blind Experience

According to the World Health Organisation, 2.2 billion people globally have a vision impairment or blindness. Considering the global population is only 7.7 billion, that is a staggeringly large number of people affected by some form of vision impairment or blindness.

To understand why it’s important for all of us to start developing content that is accessible for the visually impaired and the blind. It is a good idea to first understand the various types of visual impairments and what blindness really means.

The U.S. National Eye Institute defines vision loss as “a visual impairment not correctable by standard glasses, contact lenses, medication or surgery that interferes with the ability to perform activities of daily living.”

Vision Loss and Blindness as defined by the World Health Organisation:
  • Visual acuity is the measure of how well the eyes can see objects from a set distance.
  • 6/60 describes the ability to see objects only at a distance of six metres, while a normal eye can see the same object at 60 metres
  • Normal visual acuity is 6/6 (20/20 in the imperial measure of feet)
  • Blindness is a visual acuity of less than 3/60 (or equivalent)
Line up of colour swatches that represents the different scales of colour blindness

But it is not only vision loss or blindness that can affect the visual comprehension of digital content. Conditions such as colour blindness, Irlen syndrome, dyslexia and more, can affect how people are able to perceive digital content.

We are in an age where the consumption of digital content has become an important factor for communication, growth and entertainment. So, it is especially important in a space like education to provide everyone with the ability to access education digitally in a manner that is universal and unhindered.

If you are from RMIT, please download the windows version to experience the simulator for yourself.

“You can’t understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes”

This age-old saying encapsulates the challenge most people face when trying to develop accessible digital content. Without really understanding the challenges and limitations people with disabilities face, it makes it hard to develop really functionable accessible digital content. Even with great accessible tools and assistive devices, most digital content consumed is incomprehensible, if not properly formatted for accessibility.

To help give better context into how digital content is experienced by people with vision loss or blindness, “The Blind Experience – A visual impairment simulator” was created to help people experience non-accessible digital convent vs a fully accessible digital content. Check out the video for more detail on what the simulator can do!

Web Accessibility is our legal obligation according to the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and Disability Standards for Education 2005

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