At Starfire Dynamics, we understand the importance of accessibility and thus, strive towards making the world accessible to all. Today, there are more online and technology resources than ever before, specifically designed to aid the Blind and Visually Impaired community. So what is keeping people from utilizing all of these beneficial tools and products to the fullest? The only clear explanation is the lack of knowledge many people have of them. Below, we will introduce and explain multiple resources available to the Blind and Visually Impaired community.
iOS products such as iPhones, iPads and more, all come fully equipped with helpful accessibility features including Captioning, Audio Descriptions and much more. Additionally, on the App Store you can find even more useful tools. These apps range from screen readers and voice controls to bar code scanners and object recognition.
Similarly to iOS products, all Android products also come with specially designed accessibility features and apps. They range from built in tools and options to downloadable apps. All of which help with a variety of issues, including converting speech to text and text to speech, zoom view, and more. The apps can all be found within the Android app store, however, many features come already installed onto the device.
Screen readers are used to aid an individual with a visual impairment, by connecting to their handheld or desktop devices (computers, phones, etc.) and either read or convert to braille the content on the screen. Many of them go even further beyond simple text and can read out entire webpages. Please see the examples below:
Braille writers and printers can be very useful tools for anyone struggling with a visual impairment. The Braille writer act as a typewriter however, they produce Braille lettering instead of your standard text. Similarly, the Braille printer can print out any document from a standard text view and transcribe it into Braille lettering. These tools are essential for any business professional or student. Some examples include the following:
The American Foundation for the Blind operates an online magazine which highlights new technology products, product reviews, and online resources available to the blind and visually impaired.
Local and National Organizations
AFB is an organization established in 1921, with a mission of creating a world of no limits for people who are blind or visually impaired. They actively promote and engage in research, develop and share knowledge, as well as partner with others who are working for similar goals. They are an excellent reference source for anyone looking up information on a multitude of blind/visually impaired topics.
ACB consists of 70 state chapters and special-interest affiliates nationwide, who represent a diverse range of groups within the blind community. This includes students, families, teachers, and many more. They were founded on the idea of increasing the independence, security, equality of opportunity, and quality of life for all blind and visually impaired people. They work diligently to stay up to date on new technology and advances in the world of accessibility and provide relevant information on many subjects.
Founded in 1940 and currently headquartered in Baltimore, MD, NFB is the largest nationwide organization of blind Americans. By connecting members, they utilize their network to coordinate programs, services and resources to defend the rights of blind Americans. Additionally, they provide information and support to children and adults living with a visual disability, in order to create a better future for the blind community.
The Lighthouse Center for Vision Loss is a local, independent nonprofit organization, dedicated to fostering independent and vibrant lives for blind or visually impaired individuals. Located throughout the country, the Lighthouse provides training and other services to over 1,500 individuals each year. From youths to working-aged adults to seniors, they offer a number of different programs to help prepare oneself for a prosperous/independent life.
Together with the help of dedicated organizations like these, accompanied by new tools and technologies; we can create a future full of success, independence and equal opportunity for all those impacted by a visual disability.