October is Blindness Awareness Month, AMA! Fun facts to start:

93% of people with sight loss have some level of sight, even if it's just telling the difference between light and dark.

Braille users are pretty rare (I've heard different percentages but all in single digits) so don't think slapping Braille on everything means you're done with accessibility.

We tend to be very poor. 75% of working-age blind people in the UK don't have jobs. People think being blind means we can't do most things.

@bright_helpings damn i didn’t know that about braille. it’s always totes as this, every blind person can read this, sort of thing

@sunflower Yeah it's such a widely held misconception.

To be clear, Braille is incredibly important because the people who do use it tend to absolutely rely on it. If there's no braille, a text is not accessible because it'll definitely be excluding people.

It's just that having only Braille isn't enough either. There are so many ways visually impaired people access text, this is an important one but it's only one of them.

@bright_helpings Given that the vast majority of blind people have some level of sight, is there a clear distinction between visually impaired and so-called "totally blind" or is it more like a matter of degree?

@ljwrites There's not a clear distinction. It differs both in terms of legal status and people's everyday usage.

For example, in the UK you can be registered (there is a literal register) either sight impaired or severely sight impaired. And these sort of map on to the colloquial language "partially sighted" and "blind." But I'm registered severely sight impaired and yet call myself partially sighted much of the time since that gives people a better idea of what to expect from me.

@bright_helpings @ljwrites
In the US there's a term 'legally blind', which is basically 'sight impaired enough you aren't allowed to get a drivers license'. Most folks here know that 'legally blind' folks are often partially sighted, so distinguish between 'legally blind' and 'blind', but not everyone uses it that way,.

@jessmahler @ljwrites Yeah in the U.S., where I'm from, the distinction is legally blind/totally blind. (A lot of people from other countries didn't get the joke in the name of Legally Blonde because they don't know about this!)

I'm legally blind in the U.S., and people's understanding of what that means/what to expect from me varies widely in my experience. It's one of the reasons I prefer the "partially sighted" terminology in the UK.

@bright_helpings @jessmahler @ljwrites ...oh. I'm from the US and I *still* didn't get the joke in the name of that movie. :facepalm_g1:

@naga @twistylittlepassages @bright_helpings @ljwrites
I got that it was a reference to 'legally blind', but never understood why it was funny. *shrug*

@bright_helpings @jessmahler @ljwrites

In Germany, (legally) blind is exactly defined as having visus / visual acuity of less than 0.02 (1/50) on the better eye. If you are legally blind you get "blind money" from the government.

Then there is highly visually impaired (0.02 - 0.05) and visually impaired (0.05 - 0.3). There are other conditions besides just reduced acuity that can qualify for one of the categories (that's were I am).

So blind is a very clear and narrow definition here and it's also used in that way by most blind / visually impaired people. Germans are bad at separating legal definitions from self identification... not just when it comes to blindness. So most people stick to it and can be assholes about it.

It's not as open as with Deaf / HoH culture.

@jules Thanks for this perspective on what it's like in a place outside my own experience 💚

@jessmahler @bright_helpings @ljwrites now is there a difference between those who aren't allowed a driver's license at all and those who aren't allowed to drive without glasses/contacts? bc they only tested my fiance's sight with their glasses on, if they hadn't had them on there's no way they'd be allowed to drive

@raphaelmorgan @bright_helpings @ljwrites
Legally there might be a difference, socially/culturally, if you can drive with glasses/contacts you aren't considered sight impaired.

it's actually a point I've used in presentations to get people to understnad how much of disability is social and cultural.

@raphaelmorgan @jessmahler @bright_helpings @ljwrites I don't know about other jurisdictions but my driver's license has a note printed right on it, "corrective lenses required" in the restrictions/endorsements section. So yeah, legally I can't drive without appropriate glasses or contacts.

Not that I would want to. But I suppose some people might be closer to the edge of needing or not.

@raphaelmorgan Yeah, if a person's sight is fully/mostly correctable they aren't considered any kind of blind/visually impaired. @jessmahler @ljwrites

more questions, feel free to ignore if I'm annoying 

@bright_helpings now, I'm not blind but I am farsighted and have glasses for that. my glasses do not really make it so that I can read easily or see close up, but they make my closeup vision *slightly* better.
if someone is visually impaired and has glasses, are they kind of like that? helpful, but you still can't really see much?
I just see that you have glasses in your profile picture so I wonder if that's what people mean...

@bright_helpings ... when they speak about visually impaired people with glasses.
(for the record I'm also not trying to say that I'm visually impaired, I was just using my glasses as an example)

@raphaelmorgan No worries, your meaning was clear to me! (I have had people tell me that them wearing glasses was exactly the same as me having a visual impairment! 🙄 so I know what that's like and I knew you weren't doing that)

more questions, feel free to ignore if I'm annoying 

@raphaelmorgan Yeah exactly. Glasses do help my vision a lot compared to me not having them, but my vision even corrected is still relatively poor.

@bright_helpings what do y'all look for in a website and media information?

is there a good set of resources that you could recommend as a starting point for self-learning?

@kemonine This is such a big question, and I'm probably not the best person to answer it. :) But I have a good (if long) page on image descriptions saved:

And the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are always good too.

@bright_helpings thank you for the details

can i ask a more narrow follow up?

@kemonine You can ask! I'm only one person and like I say I'm no expert but I will try to find a good answer.

@bright_helpings for video content

beyond a 'this is [blah]' should we warn if its mute/non subtitled/just game audio (no speech narrating whats happening)?

would that be helpful even?

@kemonine Yes that would be great!

Like here on fedi there's something of a convention to warn if an image is not described, or if a toot is unfriendly to screenreaders. This just feels like the video version of that.

I'd say "there's no audio description" for that warning, by the way, if you're struggling with how to word it.

@bright_helpings i was struggling with how to word it 😉

say in mastodon we do a post and it's essentially the image description. I've been known to post things like "oooo, the bag of beeswax arrived!" and it's a pic showing that such a thing happened.

is it better to drop the post text into the image description as well or just have a note that says "(this is also the image description)"?

@kemonine I think either of those is fine, it's a matter of preference. I'd just advise not to leave the image description field empty because then we can't tell if we're missing out or not. But either of these ways of addressing that problem seems good to me.

@naga @bright_helpings i run into this a lot

esp as i share some of my photography work

i wanna be sure im able to signal 'this is very sighted material' but also not get in the damned way

so much stuff with accessibility benefits from a 'this is generally abled content due to $artGenreOrSimilar' but you gotta get the hell out of the way

i also have an arm tremor and type one handed most days ; i dont mind a reduction in typing that also reduces folks with visual needs annoyances 😉

(side note: if you ever want build a brailer inspired keyboard like the orbit bt model i know a few folk whod love to help and use discord for coordination)

@bright_helpings also

(@) can help with being good about adding captions as a default.

@bright_helpings re low numbers of braille readers.

Do you suspect that this is because of computers eliminating the perceived need, because of poor braille education offerings, or something else?

@masukomi a combination of both of those things, as far as I can tell (I'm no braille expert).

long response 

@bright_helpings @masukomi Another factor is expense. To use braille with a computer you need a refreshable braille display, which is wicked expensive. In addition to the usual extra cost of assistive devices, there's the royalties you have to pay to keep up the patent holders' literal yachts.

As for education (in Canada at least), it used to be that blind and VI kids would be packed off to a boarding school where they'd be taught braille regardless of level of sight. It's so if you lose your ability to read print in later life, you still can read braille. But as blind students become more integrated with regular schools, it becomes less practical to teach braille, since you have to teach the teachers, when only some of them will ever have a blind kid in their class.

(I'm sighted, but I work for a certain major Canadian charity for the blind.)

@bright_helpings @masukomi + there are many people who become blind later in life and learning Braille isn't that easy if your hands are not used to it. Older people often never learned it even before computers could do part of the reading out loud.

(I learned Braille as a sighted teenager in the 90s to be able to exchange private letters with my blind friend because the only other way was someone reading them to her and we didn’t want that. It was really hard to get my fingers to feel the letters (I gave up and cheated by learning it visually), and it's much harder for older people.)

@bright_helpings as a visual artist, what are some overused tropes or portrayals of blind people that im better off not using if id ever draw a blind character?

Also i know other groups prefer to be called “people with X” or “X people” (like people of color or autistic people). Does people with blindness have a similar preference?

@foervraengd These are such great questions!

Easy one first: In English, in the anglophone cultures I know about, it's very okay to say "blind person."

"Person with blindness" is not really used, that sounds very weird to me.

You do sometimes hear "people with a visual impairment" (or "people with sight loss" for those who don't like the word "impairment," because it's medical-model language).

@foervraengd For the other question

Blind people don't all wear sunglasses but some do.

They may have a white cane or a guide dog but many do not.

They might hold things very close to read/see them, or not.

Their eyes might look totally "normal," or they might be absent, cloudy, covered by a patch, etc

Blind people don't wave our hands in the air like sighted people do when they pretend to be blind (and the cane doesn't wave in the air either! it's for touching the ground).

@Sibylle Yeah there seem to be tons of young white cis women blind influencers. @foervraengd

But Visually impaired people makes such a good abbreviation!

Pardon my ableism here.

@RyunoKi It's fine to say visually impaired people and there are no end of jokes about VIPs. :) @foervraengd

@bright_helpings @foervraengd The term “partially-sighted” is sometimes used for this purpose.

@foervraengd @bright_helpings I mean, adjective-first is usually fine as long as said adjective exists and isn't a slur
like, the reason we don't call POC the other version of that is not bc people wanted person-first language, otherwise it would also be politically incorrect to call people Black people etc
autistic isn't a slur, disabled isn't a slur, and blind isn't a slur, so calling people those as adjectives is fine

@foervraengd @bright_helpings there are some things that might sound a bit weird that you might wanna go person first with just bc that's how ppl say it, but if you called me an arthritic person or something I'd just think it's kinda funny, I wouldn't be offended

@bright_helpings @raphaelmorgan for context; english isnt my native language. For me “x ppl” and “people of/with x” literally means the same to me in my head. Ive been told not to say “ppl with autism” because that apparently indicates they choose to have it. I have also been told to say “people of color” because “colored people” is outdated and seems to just have bad connotations with it.

@bright_helpings @raphaelmorgan So i was asking about this just to make sure which order of the words to use. It’s a “id rather ask a dumb/obvious question rather than remain unsure” situation.

@foervraengd @bright_helpings that's fair! I just wanted to make sure you know that the disability groups vs POC are very different, because the alternative to "people of color" is a racial slur (or at least slur adjacent), so it seems odd to compare the two

@bright_helpings do you know how common it is for blind folks of any sight level to have an assistance dog or pony?

I have an assistance dog so I just love working dogs! And the assistance ponies are amazing

@evel I know it's really not that common in the UK (I live here so I don't know the stats for other countries offhand).

There's only like 5,000 guide dogs provided by the biggest charity, there may be a few more provided elsewhere but it's still not a lot when there are 360,000 people registered blind here. (And that 5,000 doesn't include assistance animals for other disabilities of course, or other animals that assist blind people.)

@bright_helpings assistance dogs in the states don't nearly meet the number of people who would benefit from them either. We can at least train our own but it's a helluva undertaking and not possible for everyone. I believe England allows for owner-training but I could be wrong, plus some places do the thing where guide dogs are in a special privileged category that's separate from other assistance animals and I can't remember if England does that or not

@evel @bright_helpings yeah my sister could use a service dog and she has a dog that already has a lot of those instincts but my BIL doesn't have time to train her and they don't have money to get her officially certified so she can, like, actually take her places :/ it really sucks tbh

@raphaelmorgan @bright_helpings if they are in the U.S. there's no such thing as official certification!

if the dog performs at least a single task for their person, and the person is severely disabled according to relevant medical professional, the dog is an assistance dog! if they behave extremely perfectly in public, she can take the dog with her to public places

laws vary by country and such, but this is true for 100% of places the ADA (americans w/ disability act) covers

@evel @bright_helpings oh that's cool! ig there are a lot of scammers online then yikes
but it's good to know that she doesn't need to get her certified

@raphaelmorgan @bright_helpings yes there are many many scammers

there's even some good websites talknig about service dogs that are part of a scam to get people to pay them to "certify" their dogs >_<

@bright_helpings thank you so much for this thread, it's tremendously valuable to me :heart:

@bright_helpings I always get exasperated by the audio signals for pedestrian crossings not being standardized. They sometimes even vary from city to city in the same country.

How much of an actual problem is this for blind people?

@gunchleoc I can only speak for the UK, but here there are good reasons that some crossings don't beep.

If there is another crossing nearby that is timed differently (so traffic will be going through one while stopped at the other), neither will beep if the sound could be misunderstood to be happening at one crossing instead of the other.

Otherwise people might hear the wrong beep and step right out into traffic.

There are (usually) tactile incubators more reliable than the beep

@bright_helpings That's a good point! Thanks for explaining and for this thread.

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