Earlier this month, Onix’s Equidox team immersed ourselves in the world of the visually impaired at the National Federation of the Blind’s (NFB) annual convention and got a close look at how crucial digital accessibility is for the blind.
While digital accessibility is an actively growing area here at Onix, we didn’t travel to the event in Orlando as exhibitors. We went for our own education and to further build our partnership with the National Federation of the Blind.
As the NFB sees it, blindness isn’t the characteristic that defines someone or the future ahead of them. In fact, this is how this vital organization describes itself…
The National Federation of the Blind is the only organization that believes in the full capacity of blind people, and has the power, influence, diversity, and determination to help transform our dreams into reality.
The organization seeks daily to raise expectations and show those with visual impairment, not to mention the world, that blindness isn’t something to hold you back — but that there are stumbling blocks such as technology, that cause delays.
It's Time to Address Digital Accessibility
The conference, the largest global gathering for the visually impaired, featured numerous educational sessions and an expo. While much of the event is aimed at blind consumers, it also provides education and technology updates for businesses that want to do the right thing and provide best practices for accessibility. And it hits a strong message home: Accessibility isn’t an option. It’s a must.
During the event, the National Federation of the Blind invited us to join a panel discussion on behalf of Equidox to discuss digital accessibility and how to use best practices for this ever-developing world of accessibility.
This experience really enlightened me about the importance of digital accessibility. While the panel focused on all aspects of accessibility for the blind, the discussions about the web and how people with visual impairment use it really hit home.
To see how the 125+ participants in this session reacted to the issue of accessibility — or in many cases, the lack thereof — touched me. This sentiment about the need for more accessibility, digital or otherwise, was echoed by all of the annual convention’s attendees.
There's a Need for PDF-to-HTML Conversion
According to the NFB, 70 percent of working-age, blind adults remain unemployed. Some of this in our digital age comes down to the growing online hiring process and the lack of accessibility to websites and online documents.
This is just one example of how a lack of web and document accessibility hurts the blind community. Something needs to change, and quickly. This population needs to be included in all online activities.
I left Orlando feeling awed, motivated and determined. I realize the business-to-business world is behind the proverbial eight-ball in making digital accessibility a reality for all. We need to work together to address the needs of this population to make life easier and more accessible.
Here at Onix, we are proudly committed to helping the blind community by working with partners like the NFB to ensure the visually impaired are not excluded from the digital experience. We have expanded our accessibility services because this is a problem in our society; we want to do our part by making information inclusive for everyone.
What are you doing about digital accessibility? It’s time to do something. It’s not too late to start!