Are blind persons excluded from the modern world of digital work?

For many persons, digitalisation is a blessing. For the blind and visually impaired, this is actually not always true. This is shown by a recent study by the American Foundation for the Blind's.

The study took several approaches: A literature review was conducted, interviews with individuals and focus groups were conducted, as well as surveys.

One-third of the respondents had problems completing tests that were part of the application process, one-fourth could not complete training necessary for their job, and about half could not complete printed or digital forms necessary for job onboarding. A fifth did not ask for disability-necessary adjustments for fear of negative consequences.

From my own experience and that of blind/visually impaired friends, I can confirm the experience. The pressure has increased in recent years to quickly get to grips with new tools. Most of these tools work purely visually or you have glaring disadvantages if you cannot work with the graphical user interface.

In addition, the pace of work and expectations have increased more and more. For example, I would no longer recommend a young blind person to go into online editing. Who can shoot videos, edit audio files, view their editorial plans via Trello, work with X editorial systems simultaneously and at the same time maintain a reasonable work pace at the speed of a sighted person? Yes, there is assistance, but it is not supposed to take over technical tasks such as video editing or maintaining graphic boards. If she does that work, what why I'm there?

I also see problems with professional networking: We have a choice between the disaster XING and the disaster Linkedin. I suffer physical pain as I wait the minutes for the surface to build up. So far I haven't figured out if or how to navigate through it in a structured way with screen readers. Even companies that supposedly have accessibility in mind are simply incompetent: GoogleMail in the browser is a pure pain with screen readers. The happiest day of my life will be when I can uninstall Adobe Reader when they send "accessible" PDF to the hell from which it have come.

The understanding or willingness to engage with these challenges is somewhere between solitary and non-existent on the part of sighted persons. This is understandable in that they have their own work to do, of course.

I have to say that my optimism has waned in recent years that the situation will improve in the foreseeable future. So far it has rather got worse. We will take care of accessibility later is the most frequent sentence in recent years. Sure, guys, we'll just wait until you're done with it.

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