Today's post is my contribution for Global Accessibility Awareness Day.
The term accessibility refers to enabling access for people with disabilities. That's why this post is about resources out there to make aspects of everyday life accessible for people who are blind, or visually impaired. I've written about things you can use for education, employment, entertainment and more.
Every year on the third Thursday of May GAAD (,short for Global Accessibility Awareness Day) takes place. It's where you encourage and educate people to talk about digital access and inclusion for more than 1 billion people with disabilities and impairments worldwide.
So, without further ado here's a look at how the following areas can be made accessible for people with sight loss.
Everyone has a right to an education, but sometimes people with disabilities need reasonable adjustments to ensure their able to learn the same thing as everyone else in an accessible format. Whether your in primary school, secondary school, or university, you deserve to learn in a way that's easy for you.
When I was growing up, education was something that was made accessible for me. The boroughs I've lived in had support available for people who are blind or visually impaired. From primary school to University I had resources like, my learning materials made in a format I could read and use independently, a laptop with text to speech software, a support worker in class, modified exam papers, orientation and mobility training and independent living skills with a ROVI (rehabilitation officer). Unfortunately, not everyone is able to get support like this. The Still Left Our of Learning report reveals that public spending cuts has created a "postcode lottery", where funding isn't equally distributed for services. Optician Online explains it's meant that "over three quarters of local authorities have cut or frozen support towards specialist education for young people with vision impairment (VI) in the UK". Not to mention, one in eight Visually Impaired children or young people, haven't been able to get support to develop their mobility, orientation and independent living skills..
Thankfully RNIB recently developed a Curriculum for Children and Young People with Vision Impairment (CFVI) that aims to define, assist and discuss the support children and young people need whilst in education. It covers 11 teaching areas like facilitating an inclusive world, communication and accessing information and has a shared vocabulary children, young people, parents and professions can use to better communicate these pathways of support. RNIB also have a UK Education Bookshare service with 797,077 titles available in various accessible formats. Along with a curriculum resources page on their website, with resources that can be used in the classroom.
Despite popular misconceptions blind and visually impaired people can actually work in various types of employment. We can do the same job as a sighted person. Yet RNIB's employment research reveals that only 1 in 4 blind and partially sighted people are in employment. We all know that job hunting sucks, but sometimes it can feel like your disability is the reason why you didn't get the job. You'd think that by 2022 the world would understand that just because someone has a disability, it doesn't mean they have to be made redundant from their job. They can still do what they were doing. They just need it to be adapted to their needs as a disabled person.
RNIB have a visibly better employer standard to help companies make their workplace more inclusive for employees with sight loss. One way to make jobs accessible is through the UK government's disability confident employers scheme, which includes guidance on employing people with disabilities. Along with a list of employers that have signed up to the scheme, for disabled job seekers to read through. Speaking of which, BlindAmbition and RNIB have a series of employment webinars to help blind and partially sighted job seekers in all aspects of the job hunting process. Also Jobcentre Plus have a Access to Work Scheme that provides practical support to help disabled people work in the same job as their colleagues. It provides support like special aids and equipment, support workers, travel to work and more.
I once had a guy express that because I watch TV, I must have some sight and not be totally blind. Turns out there are people out there who think blind people don't watch TV. Yes, I'm visually impaired, but the point is that TV can be made accessible for someone with sight loss. How? With audio description, a separate narrator voice that fits into the gaps of a TV show or movie to describe what's happening on the screen. For example, if there's a montage scene with music, the audio description will describe what's happening on the screen. It's an accessible feature that's available on various channels on all UK broadcast providers, and on certain streaming services. Sight Advice FAQ has a brief overview of how to get audio description on your TV. Also the website TV Help has schedules for audio described programmes on all UK broadcaster services. RNIB's Audio Description page has more information about audio description on UK providers, Video on Demand services, Cinemas, theatres and more. For blind and visually impaired people a TV show or Movie having audio description is essential. When everyone was talking about Squid Game on Netflix ( a Korean drama that had an English dub and Korean audio description), visually impaired viewers had to wait for Netflix to develop and add the English audio description so they could see what the hype was about. That's why RNIB have a petition to make audio description a legal requirement on video on demand services.
For those of you who enjoy going to the cinema there's a CEA Card that disabled guests can purchase, to give another guest that accompanies them a free ticket. I've heard you can even get discounts for concerts! Scope's website has more information about disability discounts you can get for days out and travel. If museums, theatre, or open houses are your thing VocalEyes has information about audio described performances and touch tours you can attend across the UK. If you like reading to relax, RNIB's reading service has over 32,000 books available in different accessible formats like audio, large print, braille and digital download.
Accessibility is something that can be applied to other areas of everyday life. For example NaviLense is an app that scans QR code tags and reads out the item the tag is placed on. It's a versatile way to navigate unfamiliar environments, or look for products independently. Kellogg's even has the tags available on their boxes, so can use it to find your favourite cereal WelcoMe is another useful app that people with disabilities and business can use to identify how to make someone's experience accessible and their needs as a disabled person. If you'd like to find out more about accessible apps, check out visually impaired fashion and beauty content creator Fashioneyesta's video:
Sassy Wyatt is a travel content creator, who's also blind and has a chronic illness. Her YouTube channel has videos of various accessible trips she's been on, disability and comedy. Here's a video she did about 11 free apps:
Lastly, fashion and beauty is everywhere in our lives, we all get dressed, do self care and try to look presentable from time to time. Blind and visually impaired people also enjoy fashion and beauty like everyone. However, the fashion and beauty industry still has a long way to go to become something someone with sight loss can use independently. Emily Davison's blog post has some tips on how brands can do that. She's also reviewed Victoria Beauty, an accessible skincare brand for blind and visually impaired people! Below is a video by Molly Burke about accessible brands for people with sight loss:
As you can see accessibility is something that can be incorporated in all aspects of everyday life. Yes Global Accessibility Awareness only happens once a year, but accessibility is something we can work on all year round. The purpose of this post was to show you just that. If you know anyone in your life who could benefit from the resources I've mentioned, feel free to share this blog post. Share what you're favourite accessibility services are in the comments below!