Liberty and Accessibility

Monday, September 18, 2006

ABC has a show called Extreme Makeover. This show builds homes for people who have had problems in their lives. This is good, but the problem is that they spread myths about blind people. On their most recent show, they built a house for a blind family with a disease called Anairidia. The show went to extremes to build the house especially for a blind person. For example, they talked about having bright colors on the steps so the family could detect them better. Even if somebody has some vision, they don't need bright colors on the steps in order to know when they are there. This is what a cain or guide dog is for. Not to mention that bright colors wouldn't do anything for somebody who is totally blind. As another example, they talked about having a master bathroom so the father didn't have to "go out into the hallway and search for the bathroom"! I'm blind and I go to the University of South Florida. There is plenty of places I go where there is not a bathroom. In fact, I live in an on-campus apartment and there is no bathroom in my bedroom. I urge viewers of ABC's Extreme Makeover show not to judge blind people from what is seen on this show. I don't think this show was made to be educational. For some actual education about blindness, go to the sites below.
The National Federation of the Blind's web site is The web site for the National Federation of the Blind of Florida is

Thursday, September 14, 2006

What is This is a site that universities use to make it easier for students to participate in studies and to help professors and their research staff keep track of appointments. At my university (University of South Florida), Psychology students can get extra credit for signing up for studies. All of this is good if you're a sighted student or researcher. However, if you're a blind student or research assistant, you can't use this sight. As I said in my previous entry, we arrow down to links and hit enter to follow them. However, you can't do this with a lot of the links on As an example, when I go to to log in, I can't activate the "researchers" or the "participants" links. Therefore, I can't log in to register for experiments or to access experiments as a researcher. Academic research is supposed to be ethical. Is it ethical for universities to use software that discourages people with a disability from participating in research studies? I'm not sure that it is. For this reason, I'm asking all universities who use to either put pressure on the company to make their site accessible or to switch to another company.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Since I'll be talking about web sites that are inaccessible to screen readers, I should probably use my first entry to explain what a screen reader is. Nowadays, computers are a part of most Americans every day lives. In order for blind people to participate in American society, they use a screen reader. A screen reader speaks what a sighted person would see on a computer screen using a computer synthesized voice. Instead of using a mouse to navigate our computer, we use keyboard commands. For example, when we brows the web with browsers such as Internet explorer, we can usually arrow down to a link and press enter on the link to follow it. However, since some web page designers don't consider that blind people may need to use their sites, there sites are sometimes unusable by the blind. An example of one of these sites is I will talk more about that in my next entry.

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