Please find the audio version of this post here:
Do you remember the silly questions like “What would you rather give up: Facebook or Sex?” Silliness I know but “What if you lost your vision but you didn’t want to give up using the internet?” That is a very real question that was front and centre for me when I met blind [so she calls herself] local Kelowna artist Ruth Bieber this week.
Our local Kelowna Art Gallery opens a very unusual exhibit this week: Just Imagine is a show featuring works of artists who are blind or partially sighted curated by Ruth Bieber who has a parallel exhibit at the Rotary Centre of the Arts showing her own paintings and the collaborative pieces she did together with Rena Warren
Here are some images from the exhibit at the RCA featuring Ruth and Rena’s work – make sure you go, see and feel these amazing paintings!
As some of you may know I am very interested in the arts and exploring the visual artist in me is always on my to-do list. I am also very aware of all of my senses and how important they are for my life. The more I get into Social Media and creating websites the more I am aware of my sense of vision.
We hear so much about the importance of visuals – 2012 was the year of Pinterest and Instagram – when we buy TVs, tablets and smart phones the screen resolution is an important factor.
Just imagine surfing the internet with your eyes closed,
- no screen
- no mouse
- no touch screen
- only a keyboard to navigate
- only your speakers as output
Ruth was so kind to show me how she uses her computer:
The differences start with booting up the computer. [The visual part of the videos is secondary - try closing your eyes and try to imagine Ruth's experience]
Note: I noticed that Windows8 seems more accessible to the blind – I found a review about this by Mardon Erbland
Now that Ruth fired up her computer she does what most of us do first, she goes to check her email. As someone that uses the mouse extensively it’s hard to imagine doing absolutely everything with key combinations.
I don’t know about you but I thought about all the useless email I’m receiving every day and how I delete a lot of them within seconds of reading the subject or glancing at the preview.
In the next video you can see Ruth navigate through her own website, playwithperspective.com. Granted, the site is built on a vistaprint template that has its own limitations but I think most other sites would have similar problems. Ruth’s pages are very clean, no banners, unnecessary links, pop-ups or anything. The site is even responsive but listen to it….
I hope you took the time to listen to these videos. Ruth’s experience makes me re-think webdesign and the whole trend towards more visuals on the internet.
If you are a web developer with experience in creating websites accessible to users who are blind, please contact me. I would love to learn more about this!
For me the next step is to explore how people who are visually impaired use Social Media sites. Right now I can imagine using Twitter but sites like Facebook and Pinterest with all the images and links seem to be impossible.
Web designers, do you keep users with different abilities in mind? Click to tweet
Do you know how people who are #blind or partially sighted use #socialmedia sites? Please let @tweet4ok know Click to tweet