Thursday, May 15, 2014

Bacon Bits: Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Today is a significant day in the lives of many people with disabilities around the world. 

May 15 is Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Global Accessibility Awareness DayWhen I think about accessibility and what it means to me personally as a blind American, I have to say without a shadow of a doubt that if you are newly blind or if you know that blindness will be a significant part of your future. 

This one statement can be built on - it is better to be blind in 2014 than in any other time in the world’s history! Let me give you a few reasons why. 

First, access to information through technology has advanced by leaps and bounds within the past 20 years. No longer do blind people have to wait for the mailman to deliver them their braille book or audio cassette. I now can get access to books digitally and be reading pretty much whatever I want within seconds of searching for it. 

Secondly, because of access, blind people are breaking down the barriers that have kept many of them from entering the S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering, math) fields. There are more blind scientists, mathematicians, educators, and technology professionals than ever before in the history of blind people. When I was a child back in the 1970’s and 80’s, I was not allowed to participate in the science labs. I know this is not the case anymore. 

Thirdly, blind people are changing the social stigma that they are helpless. More and more blind people, whether they use a white cane or a dog guide, are getting out of their homes and venturing out in the public eye using all forms of transportation. The time is closer now than ever, that blind people will have access to a car that can be driven using non-visual techniques. Whether the automobile is self-driven by a computer such as the Google car or blind people have partial control of some of the features of the vehicle as demonstrated in the National Federation of the Blind’s 'Blind Driver Challenge', blind people will be behind the wheel of a car someday soon.

All this being said, Global Accessibility Day is a day to celebrate the accomplishments of what we have gained access to and to reflect on where we need to go in the future. Happy Global Accessibility Day to all my disabled family! Let’s keep moving forward and changing what it means to be blind!

Everette Bacon
Bacon Bits is a recurring post by Everette Bacon, president of the Utah National Federation of the Blind, supervisor of technology and employment at the Utah Division of Services for the Blind, and friend of UATP. You can follow Everette on Twitter @baconev. 

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