January 5, 2016
If you know me, you’ve probably noticed that I sometimes wear glasses. You may also have seen me, glasses or no glasses, squinting to see something on a page or a screen. There’s a reason. I have three genetic eye diseases: cone dystrophy, macular degeneration and drusen – an unfortunate trifecta that is rare in someone my age and that caused my vision to do a big dip in 2015.
Though I get by by zooming into websites, there is a handful of sites that I simply can’t use. Because I understand how challenging — and sometimes impossible — visual impairment can make reading certain sites, it was important to me that our new website be as accessible as possible for people with low vision.
We consulted the websites of eye specialists, which often have features like inversion and the ability to increase font size, making their sites more usable for the visually impaired. These are somewhat extreme examples specially targeted to people who have difficulty seeing, but we wanted to see what tools were available.
In building our site, we Vischeck – a tool that allows you to test how your website will look to people with colour blindness.
I’m happy to be living in a time when technology can assist those of us who have low vision or accessibility challenges. It’s a better time to have low vision than it was 10 years ago, and thanks to some innovative companies (check out this Digital Trends article about amazing technologies that are assisting the visually impaired), it will be even better ten years from now. For someone like me, that means a lot.