I was recently reading a blog post written by a young lady who was diagnosed with Optic Nerve Hypoplasia. She is now 21 years old, and she was writing her post to raise awareness about something that I had not really thought about. Why do only 7% of standard print books get transcribed into audio, large print or Braille?
When I think about disabled access, the natural thought is for access to buildings and transport for people who need to use wheelchairs. How very narrow-minded of me! I am ashamed to say that I had not really thought about those people who have other, less obvious impairments. So it got me thinking – how would I cope if I could not see?
A Trip to the Library
Much like the young lady in the blog post, I enjoy a good book. There have been times when I have been on the edge of my seat waiting for the latest book in a series to be published. How disappointing would it be to only have access to 7% of all the books in print? But there are many other issues, too. I imagined myself, unable to see, going about my daily tasks. I would be worried about setting a foot outside, let alone going to a public place. I thought about my trips to the local library. How would I know where to go even if I managed to get through the door? I wouldn’t be able to browse the shelves as I do now, and I wouldn’t even be able to find the desk where I could ask the librarian for help.
A Great Idea
I started searching online for the kind of help that is available. I found a website that provides tactile trail guides, a kind of bumpy line that sticks to the floor, especially to help visually impaired people know where they are. I’m going to mention it to the librarian at my local library next time I go. They could lay a trail to the reception desk and to the large print and audio books. That would surely help. If you want to find out more about tactile trail guides, click here. I’ve seen something similar at roadside crossings, but I’ve never seen this kind of thing used indoors.
The more I think about it, there are lots of places where something like this would be useful. As someone who is lucky enough to have her sight, I know there have been occasions when I have felt lost in a building and not known where to go. When I’ve visited a hospital, it would have helped if there was a trail to the reception desk. Many public buildings are so big and busy that it can be confusing; it must be much worse if you cannot see.
In the future, I will be more mindful when I think about disabled access. It is not only important to make sure everyone has physical access, but access to all the things we enjoy should be for everyone, even those who cannot see.
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