Author: Patience Agabirwe
Last updated: 17.12.2010
Participation in social life can be a barrier for the visually impaired especially if there is no universal accessibility of information. There is therefore a need to promote the rights and full participation of people with disabilities in society by improving information accessibility, so that they can also access information and be able to fully participate in community development.
This is a summary of social services in social media and net citizenship provided by different organizations, for the visually impaired and the disabled in general. It shows the services offered by social media and the web to people who are visually impaired; it highlights how the internet makes it possible for people with visual impairments to interact with one another, share ideas and common goals. The main aim of the summary is to provide a critical overview of present organizations that provide social services for the disabled.
The summary shows how community forums have been built that allow the disabled to meet and share different experiences and ideas with one another in matters ranging from psychological, educational, family-related, social, professional etc. It summarizes a few examples of how the disabled have been helped and how they have participated in the above matters, thus leading to equal opportunities, full citizenship and participation of people with disabilities in community developments.
The services discussed include; Bookshare, Inclusive planet, RFB & D blog, Datingdisabled and Familyconnect online communit.
Bookshare is an online library of digital books and periodicals; it is run by the generosity of donors and it operates under an exception to U.S. copyright law which allows copyrighted digital books to be made available to and shared by people with qualifying disabilities. It serves people with print disabilities who include; the visually impaired, the physically disabled and those with learning disabilities.
In this library individuals can sign up for membership on their own and also organizations that serve individuals with disabilities for example schools, libraries, community centers can sign up. However, proof of disability i.e a professional certicate that an individual is disabled must be presented. It offers affordable membership to qualifying individuals with disabilities worldwide.
The library offers approximately 90,000 digital books, textbooks, teacher-recommended readings, periodicals and assistive technology tools, it also provides links to over 80,000 copyrighted titles, and further simplifies the process of finding accessible books, thus increasing ease of access to accessible books and periodicals for people with print disabilities.
Bookshare allows its members to download reading materials in a compressed, encrypted file which can then be read by use of adaptive technologies. However, only members can download copyrighted books.
Among other services, Bookshare offers a range of training opportunities from complimentary to comprehensive professional development workshops.
To make print books accessible, Bookshare adds books to the digital library in a variety of ways for example; volunteers upload books they have scanned, publishers and authors grant Bookshare rights to their digital files, In-house staff and partners scan and upload books, universities and schools contribute their scanned books, educators assign books to Bookshare from the NIMAC repository.
With Bookshare, a person with print disabilities can read a newspaper the same day it hits the newsstand or a best-selling book online as soon as it is released.
Inclusive Planet is a venture with a very simple yet powerful agenda that is to engage smart minds across the world in order to create scalable technology and design solutions to the accessibility challenges of the differently abled (disabled). It is committed to the vision that the digital world can be made accessible to the differently abled by elegant design and technology solutions.
It is highly committed to internationally accepted web accessibility standards and best practices based approach to the design of electronic infrastructure. However, they also believe that compliance with these standards is only the first step towards equality of access.
Anyone can sign up for an account on their website and post any question to other members. Then the question is discussed by members who may have knowledge about it.
Inclusive planet work with anyone to create remarkable value, it does not matter whether you are a site owner, a services vendor, an inclusive employer or a software developer.
It offers Accessibility Consulting Services that will work with you and your design and development team to incorporate concepts and standards that will make your website, not only accessible, but also responsive as well as optimized for search.
For websites that already exist, inclusive planet offer accessibility testing, GAP analysis and remediation plans and turnkey remediation services including development and testing.
Inclusive planet aims to spread the values of Accessibility with both sensitization training for non-technical staff as well as full technical training for website developers with an aim to transfer knowledge and expertise in best practices and standards oriented accessible software development.
To ensure that inclusive planet’s clients and end users get the best experiences possible they seek out and forge partnerships with individuals and organizations from around the world.
In Inclusive planet,you can request other members to be friends with you and this allows one to identify him or herself with a group of his/her interests.
This is a website that serves people with visual and learning disabilities so that everyone gets access to the printed world.
For the sake of our project we focus on their blog since it is directly related to the project but for more information on the RFB & D website you can check this link http://www.rfbd.org/.
This blog spotlights and celebrates remarkable individuals who demonstrate that having a visual or print disability is no obstacle to educational success and lifetime achievement.
One can visit the blog, listen and participate in conversations with students, educators, assistive technology providers, public policy makers and caring volunteers.
Every new entry to the blog can also be accessed from the main page of RFB & D website. This helps one either to continue to visit the blog or not depending on what new topic is expected or is of his or her interest.
You can subscribe to the blog and also share with friends the content of the blog for example you can share through Facebook, twitter etc.
They offer free membership for individuals or specialized packages for schools.
On the blog you will find categories of topics discussed and these include assistive technology, blind or visually impaired, RFB & D activities, RFB & D Audiobook Library etc, recent items, and archived topics by month.
On the blog page, different people post different things; therefore one can easily find a topic of his or her interest. The topics range from testimonies, achievements, how to help the disabled etc. Also note that other users can comment on the topic being discussed hence building a community based movement that helps people with visual and learning disabilities in different matters.
The blog does not only help inspire the disabled but also helps them build self esteem.
Datingdisabled.net is one of the Top Dating Service providers in Europe and in the rest of the world. It is a part of a major dating network called White Label Dating Solutions & Dating Factory. The system incorporates years of design experience in online dating and latest WEB2 methodology to create safe, enjoyable and easy to use dating websites. Thinking from the user's point of view is their main aim. On this website, you can find your friends, co-workers, neighbors and of course total strangers looking to meet someone at datingdisabled.
No matter what your disability is, disabled dating community will always strive to help you find your perfect lover, it desires to improve dating service and help everyone find their perfect online dates and of course make it to offline relationships.
The site has tutorials, for example there is a demonstration on how one can record photos and videos from datingdisabled.net’s webcam, it is in the following languages; Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Lithuanian, Polish, Spanish and Swedish.
You will find other members pictures, comments, you can also comment, and other information about them (members) on the website. Therefore the choice is left with you to decide who to write to. You can also email other members, chat online both video and audio with other members, contact support team and can find answers to your questions from the list of frequently asked questions, thus you need to first check the list of questions to see if your question is listed before asking.
To become a member you must register and this is done by filling the form on the website, even though you can register as a member free of charge, if you wish to communicate with other members and use the service in full, you must buy a subscription and pay the fees that are set out in the price list you can find on www.datingdisabled.net payment page. Note that subscription for any service can change at any time and also members are free to unsubscribe by filling the Contact Support form on www.datingdisabled.net.
FamilyConnect is an online, multimedia community created by the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) and the National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (NAPVI). This site gives parents of visually impaired children a place to support each other, share stories and concerns, and link to local resources. The site also features a mom-authored blog, inspiring video testimonials from families, and articles authored by parents and experts in the field of blindness on multiple disabilities, technology, education, and more. From the personal to the professional, families will find all the resources they need to raise their children from birth to adulthood. On this site, you will find videos, personal stories, events, announcements, and an online community to help you guide your child to the life he or she wants.
For the case of this project we will focus on the familyconnect online community since it falls directly under our project. However, for further details on the website you can follow the following link http://www.familyconnect.org/parentsitehome.asp?SectionID=81
At familyConnect community, you can share your ideas and experiences using the site’s message boards, however, this requires you to first sign up if you are not yet a registered member and registration is free. Note that anyone can read the message boards, but only registered users can post questions or replies.
Depending on the message of your interest, at familyconnect community you will find many forums, thus, it is for you to choose which forum to participate in and of course this depends on your information needs.
The Calendar of Events on familyconnect community helps one to find events and activities of interest for children with visual impairments and their families.You can also add your events to the calendar, you can also find news and announcements of interest for children with visual impairments and their families.
At FamilyConnect you will find several videos throughout the site about personal stories from parents, siblings, and children with visual impairments; you will also find the complete FamilyConnect video collection, you will also find personal stories from parents of children with visual impairments and you can also contribute your own story. The online community can be browsed by location or by category of interest.
The site allows you to change the colors, increase the text size, and even change the font to something you find more readable. Screen reader users can move repetitive links out of their way, by pushing the navigation bar to the bottom of the page.