I don’t understand companies like google, and Facebook. Both companies are allegedly trying to unite us all together through social networks,
However, both companies suck when it comes to accessibility for blind users. It should be noted that there is ample case law which can be used to argue internet companies provide a virtual place of public accommodation under the ADA, and therefore are violating the law by failing to be accessible. Legal advice is not my purpose here, and anyone interested in learning more can email me.
The point of this article is, blind people, or even those with moderate vision problems, find it extremely difficult to use their social sites, and this potentially poses serious problems for both companies future economic outlook.
Android phones have a screen reader built into them. But, it is easier to understand a cab driver in Chicago who appears never to have heard the English language, then it is to understand Google’s screen reader. It reads about half the material on the screen, at best. Some features on YouTube are accessible. However, if you are blind and wish to insert links, cards, or other cool features into a video you post, you’re shit out of luck. It’s why many of my own YouTube videos look like ass, despite the quality of my shows other material.
One would think a company that thought to map out every street in America, would have considered making the features of their website accessible.
Credit should be given to Apple on this point. They have made a tremendous and highly successful push to make their iPhone and iPad entirely accessible to blind users. Their accessibility software built into the IOS is better than $1,000 standalone software packages designed to read PCs. It is why almost everyone who has a vision disability has an iPhone. It’s sure as hell not due to the desirable cost of Apple’s phones, or the durability of their so called lightening cord, which as far as I can tell, the only fast thing about them is the time it takes the bastard to go bad, requiring you to make another generous $30 donation to Apple’s corporate coffers. Facebook is the worse. Over 50% of the buttons and options on facebook.com are entirely unreadable by every screen reader I have ever used.
But, you’re probably thinking, who cares? “I don’t have a vision problem.” While likely true, consider this. In-between efforts to bring in as many immigrant laborers as possible in order to avoid hiring Americans, google and Facebook are focusing their future growth potential on expanding their user base in third world nations. Key to this user growth will be internet access, which is lacking in many parts of Africa and Latin America. No problem. Facebook plans on to beam down internet signals through the use of semiautonomous drones. Google plans on raining wifi signals down on entire continents with high altitude balloons.
Before either company pumps too much capital into outlandish programs, they should keep in mind, incidents of blindness are drastically higher in the third world then they are in the US. It might be nice for their disabled customers to actually be able to use the services they will undoubtably be paying for. Otherwise, providing inaccessible internet service to disabled people sounds like a plan full of hot air.