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Disabled Voices Online: Introduction

Disabled Voices Online

This is the start of a blog series, which we’re going to be dedicating to exploring the mark disabled people are leaving in this digital age.

To do this, we’re going to interview a range of disabled people such as those who run blogs, write articles, record podcasts, film videos or are involved in anything else online. Read on, for a bit more on the theme of this series and how if you think you fit these categories, we can interview you and give you the opportunity to tell our lovely readers all about what you do.

More and more things are moving online. This has opened up loads of doors for disabled people, but still leaves others firmly shut. For example, as a writer, thanks to technology, I can now work in Braille, turning in to print and either upload it or submit it by email and there you have it, my article. And if I didn’t tell you I was blind, you may never know.

But on the other hand, there are still limitations to this digital world. There are still the people who are going to reject me as a writer, merely because I’m blind. There are still issues around images and videos that are not accessible for a blind person. There are actually some websites that are either not accessible at all or extremely difficult for a blind person, merely because of the way they are set up. There is and probably will be for a long time, in all spheres of life, a shortage of awareness of the needs of disabled people.

And then of course you’ve got to remember, that the programs and devices I have to use to help me access the internet and work in Braille electronically, are all expensive. And they can break down or have problems and when they do, it makes life very difficult.

Of course, all these things are problems for people with all sorts of other types of disabilities. Deaf people can engage in a world online, that is very non-verbal through means such as messaging online. They too can express their views by writing them and posting them for the world to see. But unless there are subtitles, audio content still remains a problem.

Likewise, people with visual impairments or dyslexia, can benefit from the fact that they can have software that will customise the way in which the text on screen is presented to them, access and contribute to the internet. But there are limitations on that software and it can break down.

In the same vein, people who have restricted movement to their hands, or no movement in their hands whatsoever, need specialist equipment to access the internet and be a part of online communities. That equipment can open up doors for them, but there are as with anything else, limitations on that equipment. It is also specialist and expensive.

And of course, as I mentioned earlier, there are always going to be the people who don’t want to have anything to do with disabled people, who are going to put up barriers. And there is, certainly in traditional media anyway, a shortage of accurate portrayal of disabled people.

But while it might seem like fighting a losing battle sometimes, we have to make ourselves as disabled people, known and understood online. We have to show people the reality of things, what we can and can’t do as well as what they can do to make things easier and more inclusive for us. We need to tell the world that we want and deserve more accurate representation in mainstream media and that we deserve to be treated the same as everyone else. Because if we don’t, it’s unlikely that people at large will ever know.

But there are already disabled people out there, pushing through the challenges the world hurls at them and leaving their mark online, because the internet has opened up doors. So, in this blog series, we are going to interview a range of disabled people about the creative work they do online, be that writing articles or blog posts, recording podcasts, filming videos or anything else, be that regarding disability or any other theme they may cover, that they do online.

If you’d like to be interviewed as a part of this series, please leave a link to your online work, be that your blog, website, YouTube channel, page on a podcast network or whatever platform you use and I will look in to getting in touch. Alternatively, please contact The Aidis Trust and leave them with a link to you and an email address. You may also post email addresses in the comments, however due to spam I completely understand if you’d prefer not to, therefore I will be more than happy to visit the contact page of your site to find it.

Also, if you know of anyone who you follow who you’d like us to interview, the same applies. I can’t promise we’ll be able to use them, but we will endeavour to look in to it.

Thank you to the lovely people I have had conversations with so far and to all those who I will have conversations with while working on this series. Keep an eye out for more posts in this series.

 

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