A Blind Man’s PTSD

There are times in my life that make me feel like I have undiagnosed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) related to my sight loss.

 

My day begins like most others:

 

  • Shower and shave;
  • Feed and take the dog out for a potty break;
  • Get dressed for work;
  • Draft endless documents, do legal research and go to meetings;
  • Cook meals and do other chores I really don’t want to do; and
  • Start the process over again the next day.

 

On two or three periods a year, I break the repetitive times of life and do some traveling to enjoy my existence.

 

And before you ask, this is not what makes me feel like I have PTSD.

 

With a few exceptions, my life is just like any other person … except for …

 

Websites!!!

 

I get absolutely peeved (to put it nicely) when I come across a website that is not accessible with my screen reader.

 

Thinking about this has beads of perspiration forming and a slight palpitation occurring at this very moment…

 

Let me back up a little bit so you can understand where I’m coming from

 

A screen reader is software that allows a person who is blind or vision impaired to hear, through words, the same things a person with sight is able to see on the computer screen.

 

If you have an iPhone, you can get a feel for this by testing your Voiceover in the accessibility settings. Voiceover is a screen reader for Apple’s smart phone.

 

Having a screen reader allows me to do my work and play around on the computer when I get home. Overall, the technology is really great! That is unless a website isn’t coded correctly to allow the screen reader to interact seamlessly to read out what I need to get around.

 

You wouldn’t believe how many websites are not developed correctly to work with assistive technology. The number is staggering!

 

Let me give you a few examples:

 

Click Bank

 

This is a site where I can sign up as an affiliate to monetize my blog by promoting products that I’ve used and send readers to. If that blog reader makes a purchase using my link, I get a commission.

 

The Issue

 

I can fill out my name, address, email and go to the next page to complete my bank name and tax ID.

 

You have to read through the “contract” to move on to the next steps.

 

I can’t do this because the site stops working with the screen reader. I’m not a techy person so I couldn’t tell you the reason it stops working to save my life but I can definitely tell you it’s freakin’ frustrating!!

 

Why not contact support?

 

Yeah, no … that doesn’t seem to work consistently, if at all with the screen reader.

 

Amazon Associates

 

Everyone knows what Amazon is … unless you’ve been hiding under a rock deep below the ocean floor. This company has an affiliate program that has more affiliates than just about everyone else.

 

The Issue

 

Again, I can complete the first two pages of requested information but there is that little box with the squiggly letters and numbers that you have to type to prove you’re not a robot.

 

Again, no to working with a screen reader. Many websites do have the audio version of the little box so people can hear what to type. Not Amazon! Nope, no way. They ply you with a script along the lines of:

 

“Amazon is dedicated to having a website that works for all of our users, even those with disabilities…” blah blah blah lie lie lie

 

Well guess what.

 

I bet you can’t guess what I’m going to say….

 

Nope, it is still the inaccessible way they’ve been doing it.

 

Hulu

 

Again, I believe just about everyone knows what Hulu is. It’s another way for you to cut the cord from the cable providers.

 

The Issue

 

This company takes the cake because they will email you non stop and their iPhone app is totally not accessible with Voiceover. All I can do is hear the page numbers for what I’m assuming is the intro of the app. I can’t log in or even get to that screen.

 

This company is another one that will give you the fluff about caring that all people can use the platform and blah blah blah lie lie lie.

 

I also don’t want to sit at my computer to determine if the website now finally works with assistive technology. I’m not going to watch TV from the computer — EVER!

 

Conclusion

 

I get so angry because you begin by thinking the websites are accessible and you get to a certain point when you realize they’re not. This is more often times where you’ve wasted time filling out required info to realize companies don’t give a damn.

 

Of course, I’m speaking of companies that are truly making money and have no excuse for this. The small guys really don’t have any excuses that will fly either but I hold a true contempt for the big boys.

 

These companies spend so much in taking over the market share, they push others out who would probably listen to folks that want to spend money or partner with them to make money.

 

Now I’m going to take a break because I’m sure it’s 5 PM somewhere…

Will Burley has worked in the legal field since 2001 as a paralegal and small business owner. Will has an interest in small business formation and management and partners with organizations to advocate for issues that work towards the advancement of those that are disabled, LGBTQ and racially diverse. Will’s hobbies include singing, travelling and being a great guide dog daddy.

Will Burley – who has written posts on Will Burley's Blog.


6 Comments

  1. Hmmm… I should check on my ministry’s website. We have almost no money to invest, but there are ways to get grants and donations for things like this. And we really do want to be accessible. Thanks for raising this issue.

    • Hi Melinda! Thanks so much for stopping by and reading. Most people (E.G. A blogger, small ministry, etc.) don’t think about accessibility if they don’t have someone they know directly dealing with it. I hold true contempt for big companies that don’t care because 9 times out of 10, They’ve usually been contacted by people who had issues. I truly appreciate the fact that you want to make sure your ministry website is accessible. The American Foundation of the Blind (AFB) has some simple things that you could do that cost little to no money. The link is: http://www.afb.org/info/programs-and-services/technology-evaluation/creating-accessible-websites/improving-your-web-site/1235

  2. Hi Will,
    Interesting you bring this up because I’ve been working on this with my own website.
    Can you access my website? I just posted something about accessibility on my site yesterday. I do have a way to enlarge font for those with low vision. I’m trying to organize it in such way that JAWS can read it or a person can read it with zoomtext, etc.
    Let me know! I’ve been working with my website technician on this issue. I have low vision.
    Thanks!
    Amy

    • Hi Amy! I’m having problems getting to your site by clicking your name. Do you mind placing the link in a reply comment? I don’t mind checking it out.

  3. You know, Will, this was less an issue when we designed our sites with HTML. We knew there were issues and included provisions in our designs to allow those with disabilities to enjoy (or cringe) at our offerings. (I even set up several sites that would narrate their pages [with inflection!] for those with visual acuity issues and with verbiage when there was a song associated with the page.)
    Now, I often use WordPress- which may or may not have such provisions. But, I don’t tinker with the underpinnings.
    Thanks for reminding me that ease of use includes design and users!

  4. I can feel your frustration! Even us sighted people run into these sorts of frustrations sometimes — fill out a form after reading a TOS agreement and then have something break before you can finish what you spent so much time starting. I can see no excuse for Amazon not being able to fix this. I think the only ones they care much about pleasing are their paying customers. Third Party Sellers and Associates are just there to be used as it suits them.

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