The new professions for individuals who are visually impairedby Annalisa Lista - 2016.11.16
Digital accessibility, like accessibility in the non-digital community, must be evaluated according to the total elimination of barriers. Within this digital context, the seal of approval must come from users of digital content who are visually impaired. Stefania Leone who became blind at the age of 30 explains to West the new professions that this new field can offer to individuals who are visually impaired.
Can you tell us more about his new expertise and what it consists of?
Well, all material online needs to have its accessibility verified. From websites to downloadable documents. You might ask how? Simply by using them. Take for example a corporation like Trenitalia, responsible for selling tickets online throughout Italy. The question is whether or not a visually impaired individual can, by himself/herself (i.e. with no assistance) reserve and purchase a ticket with the support of an audio component (voice software). Throughout public institutions, the problem is entirely different. The true ”litmus test” lies in verifying whether all of the materials available to “seeing” citizens are also available to those who are blind: documents, brochures, videos, and multimedia content, etc.
How did the idea of a special professional who can verify digital accessibility come about?
There are two primary reasons. First: the need to develop new professions for blind people because the ones that used to exist are becoming obsolete or increasingly complex. To help you understand, I can give you two examples. One good one is receptionists, which are less and less necessary because of the nature of telephones (which are disappearing altogether). Another example is computer programming (my field), which now uses technology object-oriented: based on images. A task quite difficult for those of us who are visually impaired because a software does not yet exist that can read these images. Second: the need to create an even playing field where all citizens, visually impaired and not, can have equal access to all information online. An objective which is obviously still far from reality, if you take into consideration all of the complaints we see from the different associations.
How does one become a “digital accessibility technician”, does it require any specific requirements?
Only a few basic skills are necessary. Even if a university degree is not required, a certain cultural know-how is a must. Given the necessity of interacting high-level administrators or executives, for private or public entities. At least, that is what has been determined thus far from those in the field. And of course, a solid knowledge of internet and the PC environment. Last but not least: a lot of motivation, patience and a keen attention to detail.
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