[Nfbc-info] oh no! UK article about blind youth & internet

Lauren Merryfield lauren1 at catliness.com
Sat Oct 6 03:59:44 UTC 2012

I see some major problems with this article!

advice from my cats: "meow when you feel like it."
The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be
understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.
-- Ralph Nichols
Visit us at catliness.com
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Mike Freeman" <k7uij at panix.com>
To: <nfbwatlk at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Friday, October 05, 2012 8:35 PM
Subject: [nfbwatlk] FW: [List] UK article about blind youth & internet

> -----Original Message-----
> From: list-bounces at cfb.ca [mailto:list-bounces at cfb.ca] On Behalf Of
> list at cfb.ca
> Sent: Wednesday, October 03, 2012 11:10 PM
> To: list at cfb.ca
> Subject: [List] UK article about blind youth & internet
> Karl-Erik here with something disturbing.
> I just read this article from a friend's post on facebook.  It made me
> want to throw up, and not because it was gross, but because of the level
> of ignorance and misinformation that was actually published in a
> respectable newspaper, the Guardian, about blind youth and technology,
> noteably the internet.
> The article is as follows:
> Blind Young People Aren't Well Connected to the Internet... Yet
> Back on my work email, I read a message from Lee, one of the blind young
> people that my charity, The Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB),
> works with. He wrote: "At weekends I just stay at home wishing I could go
> out and do the same things as other people. I am not allowed to go out by
> myself and I don't want to go out with my sister all the time."
> Lee's experience is a snapshot of life if you are blind and young. It's
> not the futuristic digital generation, depicted in Danny Boyle's Olympic
> opening ceremony - of making friends and expressing themselves via the
> internet and using smartphones.
> In the UK, more than a fifth of young married couples first met online, a
> quarter of jobs are only advertised online, and the average person spends
> eight hours a month on Facebook. In stark contrast, nearly 40% of disabled
> people have never used the internet, accounting for half of all people who
> have never been online.
> Of the blind people motivated to get online, most go into battle using
> outdated kit badly adapted to today's internet, which is largely built by
> and for sighted people. Younger blind people are increasingly disconnected
> from the internet, and this in turn intensifies the dark reality of their
> lives: lonely, depressed, skint and with little hope for the future.
> Not every blind young person is like Lee, of course. A small number of
> them are actively making the most of the net: chatting, shopping, trading
> and getting work. The solution is found in smart touchscreen devices
> equipped with the latest software and apps.
> Blind people have a history of using touch to empower themselves. Braille,
> invented in the 19th century, is the classic example. In the 21st century
> touchscreen smartphone devices will become the new Braille. So why doesn't
> every young person that's blind get a tablet PC? Our research highlights
> three significant barriers.
> . First, browsing the internet is difficult if you are blind: research
> participants took up to 11 minutes to find out the following day's weather
> forecast. Unless you're a blind super-user, browsing doesn't improve
> without specialist software and training.
> . Second, learning to use new technology is difficult if you can't see it:
> blind young people exhibit low levels of new technology adoption. It's
> disruptive to their hard learned routines. Additionally, as technology
> brands rarely target younger ages of blind people, they aren't aware of
> new products.
> . Third, touchscreen smartphones cost too much. More than two thirds of
> blind people live in poverty - buying a device or getting a monthly data
> contract is too often out of reach.
> Because we speak to people like Lee every day we decided we ought to do
> something about the situation. RLSB's goal is to get a life changing fully
> accessible touchscreen device into the hands of every blind young person
> in and around London.
> We asked young people like Lee what would make the internet more
> attractive - they said they wanted the internet to talk with them, like
> the computer on Star Trek. We called this a Conversational Internet, where
> devices and users ask each other questions, jointly navigating the content
> of web pages. You can watch a concept video of it here.
> We reached out to those we thought could help, and received incredible
> responses from many global technology brands. IBM's UK chief executive
> contacted us proposing their annual Extreme Blue intern program could
> develop a prototype solution. Two weeks ago a basic working version was
> unveiled to the press.
> To increase adoption of new technology among blind young people we need to
> inspire people to move beyond the limits of sub-standard, difficult to use
> 'access technology' and create 'everybody technology'. I believe
> increasingly there needn't be a choice between access or mainstream
> technology - mainstream innovation can deliver products good enough for
> anyone.
> To support this vision, we're creating an expert advisory network, drawn
> from the third sector, to work closely with technology companies to create
> technology that works for everybody. It's also important blind people and
> developers get to know each other better, and we'll be hosting our own
> event called Technology without Limits on 30 November in London to do just
> that.
> And no I haven't forgotten about the third challenge; the prohibitive cost
> of touchscreen technology. At our event we'll also be launching our pledge
> to provide a touchscreen smartphone, loaded with the best software, to
> each and every one of the 7,000 blind young people in London who needs one
> (donations are, of course, welcome!).
> Today, blind young people like Lee are stuck at home, isolated, inactive
> and cut-off from the world. In the 21st century this needn't be the case.
> Just as with Braille, with the right technology, the determination to use
> it and our help, blind young people can take another big step towards
> living their lives beyond blindness.
> Julian Dailly is director of communications at the Royal London Society
> for Blind People
> Retrieved from:
> http://www.guardian.co.uk/media-network/media-network-blog/2012/oct/02/blind
> -digital-technology-internet-design?fb=optOut
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