This has been reproduced from another article on the web, to which is referenced at the end of the article. I have added my thoughts and some change to the structure to express this topic so that it becomes an interesting read and all of us can get a good understanding of how a sighted person uses the computer Vs a screen reader user; an assistive technology for the blind. This article has to be read with the perception of understanding both types of users; it's not a competitive analysis where one has to judge between the 2 types of users i.e. who is the better one...
I "a screen reader user" sat with a sighted
computer user, who primarily drove the workstation with the mouse, other than
typing into edit fields. I knew what applications she was using, as I use them
with my screen reader I understand, the mental application layout, at least
from a screen reader and keyboard command prospective.
Knowing where they were going, what they were doing, I found
myself in ah, of how quick they drove around, as well as ease of use. I
understand there are a lot of us, competent blind computer users. I believe
myself to be one. I believe I am quick, and have a lot of keystrokes memorized.
We as blind users have to trust, and think ahead much of the time, we don't allow
the screen reader to finish reading the output of the commands we are giving
the computer before moving forward because we know, trust what it is going to
do. What I believe I realized yesterday, is, it may be, one or two mouse clicks
as a sighted user, to 5 to 10 of our keystrokes. It's as if your, listening to
an entire song as you look at the screen, and gaining information, vs,
listening to each stem of that song as you move line by line with a screen
*Screen reader: an assistive technology used on digital
devices to make them accessible to the blind/ visually impaired. Sighted:
Someone with no disability with the eyes and good sight.
I am so thankful for all of the work that has been done in
the accessibility arena, so blessed because of it on a day to day basses, and I
realize I am sounding, perhaps somewhat selfish, but in the future, might there
be a quicker, less mind bending way for us as blind users to navigate a
No, I am not trying to wine or complain, I truly promise, I
don't mean that it is mentally hard for me to drive a computer with the
keyboard and accessibility, of course not, but seeing the ease of use that a
sighted user navigated yesterday, it is, in some weird odd way, maybe, so, and
for some accessibility users more than others, as we are all on a different
Take Microsoft Edge for example. As I have navigated it with
a screen reader, and may get lost as I am tabbing through, f6 brings me to the
list of tabs. I believe this list is at the top of the screen. As a sighted
user, I didn't verify, but I believe one may be able to quickly jump to the top
with the mouse curser, click on a different tab, and in a split second be
there, instead of control tabbing through all the open tabs, or cycling around
with F6, to get to the tabs list, hitting left or right arrow, and then hitting
space or enter. As I mentioned above, it may be, one click to several
keystrokes. I do also realize this doesn't hold true in every app, everywhere.
I don't know what the answer is, if there is a different
answer than we already have, but it's interesting and fascinating to ponder.
In conclusion to the thoughts expressed above: A mouse user
puts in less effort in using and navigating their computer compared to a
keyboard/ screen reader user. The author is pondering if the same computing
experience can be made possible in the future.
I acquired my disability late in life; I was at the age of
35 years; by then I had a good understanding of the Windows OS and the
applications visually. The biggest change post sight loss in being able to use
my computer has been mainly being able to navigate webpages, applications and
the OS using the keyboard and not the mouse. It was also critical that I master
the screen reader software get used to it's voice output as I cannot visually
perceive the screen and it's glossy GUI. All that said, I also mastered many
keyboard shortcut keys that help me perform many actions on the applications
that I use on an everyday basis on my job.
What I feel is there is an evident need to drive the message
of accessibility across the industry as my skills don't limit me from working
with different applications on the computer but the way they are designed
become a barrier. This is the digital divide that I face in many situations for
example from simple things like ordering groceries on an app. to booking a
flight on my smart device. Technology can be a game changer and bridge that
divide between being abled and having a disability. It's up to us to work
towards creating the awareness and driving that change. Businesses should also
shoulder this responsibility and there is a good reason to encourage that:
1. The ROI on accessibility
2. Loyal customers who trust your business because you have
3. Implementing international standards of design and
quality of your product
4. Meeting legal and social obligations
5. Better brand image
6. Diverse thinking leading to innovation
I have also said this before and will say it again;
population ages and with age there are good possibilities of a disability at
that age. Do you want such a population to be dependent; just think about it
each time you have to take a prescribed pill, you need to take help from
someone sighted to read out the labels on the bottle. What if I said, you can
do it yourself by using an app. on your phone? Would you believe me on that? Do
you think it can actually be done? If yes, you are thinking in the right direction
and about accessibility.
Footnote: Dear Readers, I write these kind of posts not to
fill space on the internet but to impact the lives of so many by creating
awareness on disability and accessibility. I expect you after reading to
reflect on what has been written/ said on such posts and drive positive change
in your network. You can talk about accessibility in your organization, with
your application development teams, in your social and professional network or
by simply sharing this post across your social networks. Thank you for reading,
have a good one!
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