|ABU Otsuki Award
Social media and Blind community
Iran Aliasghar Assadi (35/Male)
Today the majority of people using the internet might be subscribed to at least one of the social networks on the net like Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and so forth.
The first question coming to mind is that whether people need to attend in such virtual worlds so vastly or not!
The answer to such a question mainly depends on our outlook about the necessities that may make us be actively present in such websites and as a result, we may suppose them as reasons other people should have in their minds for subscribing to such websites/social networks.
Dozens of reasons might be behind the subscribers on signing up for these networks:
Being entertained, curiosity about social networks, finding new friends and meeting old friends, finding a possible love leading to either friendship or marriage, participating in different groups on these networks to follow up the subscriber's interests, avoiding isolation, discussing ideas freely and so on.
These new facilities have revolutionized our lives in different aspects and this process is still going on.
Such websites have obtained reputation through the incredible possibilities they have provided with us almost for free.
An amateur singer might be seen by millions of millions of users on the net in a week or so if he/she has something interesting to say or to share.
A social group might attract attention to its activities through making campaigns in public.
A minority may be seen and better understood by others.
So, people with disabilities as a minority are not as an exception to these regulations.
They can get lots of these benefits too.
So why don't they also consider signing up in such social networks?
Visually impaired people as an important group of people with disabilities have understood this necessity and consequently, are trying to attend in social networking more and more.
They may better introduce themselves, their abilities and capabilities to sighted people by their presence in social networks.
Now they have a great means by which they may advertise for the services they need, make campaigns against discriminations imposed on them in different ways and try to resolve them by gaining support from many groups in the community, making strong ties to get financial support through donation for their NGOs to continue their existence and attain their valuable goals and much more to say here.
Regarding the goals stated above and the benefits social networking has for visually impaired people either as individuals or as communities, why do they ignore such an opportunity?
An important factor is to make such places accessible as much as possible.
This way, there will be a greater trend between the blind to approach to social networking.
They must be standardized so that the visually impaired community can use them in different platforms and on different gadgets.
We see that many people are using their smartphones, apple devices, pocket PCs and other ways for connecting to their Facebook, Twitter, Email and these devices are replacing the old fashion laptops or desktop computers.
Therefore, we need accessibility on both social networking websites and portable devices.
Furthermore, having accessible networking websites and applications needed to communicate with these websites does not necessarily guarantee equal opportunities for people with visual impairment to access information easily.
Another aspect of accessibility is that screen reader softwares basically made by special companies or entities must also be well-updated so that they conform with the latest upgrades made in such websites.
Of course it is true that sometimes some websites decrease or even remove accessibility in their websites and applications while they are upgrading but in most cases it is true to say that most of them increase the accessibility level after any updates.
An example of increased rate of accessibility is Microsoft or apple products and an example of decreasing accessibility is Facebooks' new webpage design or Yahoo mail's website that have issues in accessibility after they upgraded.
Having screen-reader-friendly interfaces will help a lot.
Meanwhile the visually impaired computer users must be well-educated in using networking websites and be ready to efficiently use screen readers with their complete potentials that in many cases will resolve accessibility issues or at least will decrease them.
By a correct understanding of the possibilities networking is giving us generously, The institutes, organizations and NGOs responsible for blindness issues or dealing with them have started to share their links and webpages on different social networking websites and have made their own webpages there to rapidly update their users and friends about their activities and the latest news about their members.
Now, the question is that whether networking has other benefits for visually impaired people?
Let's say the answer is yes!
It will help change stereotypes about blindness and the blind specifically if the blind folks can encourage sighted friends, families and colleagues to visit their pages on networking websites and there they can be redirected to other sources of information about visual impairment.
Social Networking is also a great way to do whatever was not impossible for the blind as members of the community unless by spending a lot of money to increase social awareness, advertise on different medias, do symbolic movements like marching, jogging and etc to let the whole society hear the minority's shout and pay attention to it.
Now all these thing can be done on social networking websites almost for free or for a little of money while it is more more effective than the past due to billions of visitors available in such websites.
They can manage to attract volunteer helpers, donors, advocators and even more.
So it is not wrong to say that it obligatory for the blind to be actively present in these places for making changes toward improvements.
Even in case of inaccessible social networking websites, they can use those accessible ones to urge the owners the inaccessible networks to make it accessible and also they can make the governments to pass more resolutions in favor of accessibility and those who need it.
These new generations of medias can also help to make many public places accessible by campaigning and managing to draw attentions to make them accessible too.
So, they are a new way for making impossibles possible and it worths to gain more skills to feel comfortable in them.
A new tool to let everybody’s wishes come true.
So why do anybody hesitate to use them?