Don't Forget the Rest of Us

I love the Internet. From browsing the latest advancements in technology on Wired, to enjoying user generated content on Imgur. On Amazon I can buy every single useless thing I've ever wanted without leaving my bed. With the Internet I can find and do anything.

"The internet of things" is what they call it.

We are launching forward into a world that is evolving from physical to digital. Just thinking about it gets me amped up. Being able to control my entire apartment with an app on my phone would be unbelieveable.

The Internet is increasingly becoming an indispensable element of everyday life. Everybody uses it...

And then, my mom calls for me across the house to help her comment on a Facebook post. My dad needs help ordering a present online.

Why do my parents, like millions of people, struggle so much surfing the internet? Are they just too old to keep up with the times? Or do they have trouble seeing or focusing on the content? Well, I guess not everybody uses the Internet after all.

And that's the problem. The internet should be for everybody. No one should be left out or fell like they don’t belong. Isn’t that the whole point of advances in technology?

Let me take this a step farther to include people with disabilities who have trouble focusing or vision issues.

Yes, there are screen readers and all sorts of other technologies out there. But they are extremely expensive and only work on websites that were designed to meet the accessibility standards.

Only 5% of the people that need an assistive technology actually own or use one (source).

Why is the burden placed on accessibility users to be able to use something that I take for granted every single day? Why should someone else have a labeled placed on them because they can't gain access to such a powerful tool?

Shouldn't the internet be able to allow someone with low vision or a learning disability to surf the web? I mean, it does everything else.

By using the Internet I could control a drone, talk face to face with someone in China, or even diagnose my own symptoms (to a degree).

I find something wrong with how those with any sort of hinderance to using the Internet have to fend for themselves to gain access. The Internet has forgotten about a lot of us.

Let me throw some numbers at you:

  • Each year 75,000 more people in the United States will become blind or visually impaired.
    • Studies show that over the next 30 years aging baby boomers will double the current number of blind or visually impaired Americans.
      A Gallup poll shows that blindness is the third most feared physical condition in our nation, surpassed only by fears of cancer and AIDS.
      It is estimated that as many as 10 million Americans are blind or visually impaired.

    Nonvisual access to computer technology is an ever-increasing challenge for the blind. Most educational and employment opportunities are now and will continue to be dependent on the blind individual's ability to access and use a full range of computer and Internet technology. source

    That's why I work at the company I'm at now. So that not only my parents and grandparents, but also those amazing people who can't see the world but live in it everyday can have the chance to enjoy the Internet and its unlimited potential as much as I do.

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