How Do Deaf Blind People Use The Computer
Things get more complex when a person has more than one disability. Let’s examine what happens when a person is both deaf and blind. The major difficulty in this case is that while blind people are mostly compensated by technology through sound, deaf blind people cannot take advantage of these solutions.
The easiest way for deaf blind people to interact with technology is by touch. All visual and audible information should be converted into tactile information.
Tactile information can be obtained from electronic textual information by the use of a Braille display. A Braille display works in conjunction with a screen reader, and what a screen reader normally announces, the Braille display prints it out with dynamic Braille letters on an equipment, which is usually located under the keyboard. This makes it easy for people to quickly switch between the keyboard and the Braille display. A Braille display can be anywhere from 12 to 84 characters long, in average they are capable of displaying 40 characters.
As one of the major steps, audible information should be transcribed into textual information, similarly to how it is done to make it accessible for deaf people.
The next step is to provide all accessibility solutions necessary for blind and visually impaired people. At this point, if all is done properly, we have everything converted into electronic, accessible text.
This text can now be easily accessed by using a screen reader. If you are not familiar with screen readers, read how blind people use the computer.
This solution, however, does not make technology accessible as effectively as it does for blind people in general. People who can read with their eyes can see several words at a time and are mostly able to read quite fast. People who read with their fingers can only feel approximately two letters with one finger. Some people who perfected Braille reading can read with at least four fingers, but in average blind people use only two fingers to read, the two index fingers, which means that they will feel approximately four characters at a time.
This makes reading much slower than it is for people who listen to the same screen reader through speech. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of the use of technology has to suffer because of it.
One way to compensate a little for the speed, different languages use Braille abbreviations which is somewhat similar to shorthand writing. The most frequented combinations of characters or words are replaced by fewer Braille characters which cannot be confused with anything else in context. For example, the word “Braille” is abbreviated as “brl”. Once people learn these abbreviations, reading could become exponentially faster.
Unfortunately it is very difficult to demonstrate this experience, as it requires a professional knowledge of the Braille alphabet. If similarly to previous exercises you turn off your speakers and close your eyes, you will surely experience the frustration, but not the experience of actually being able to work with the computer.