Ten things you should know about people with low vision

Many people misunderstand vision loss. They assume that you are either blind or you can see reasonably well. The truth is quite different. This is my attempt at clarification.

  1. Low vision is very different from blindness, although they both exist on a vision continuum. If you have low or impaired vision, it will probably affect your; clarity of vision (visual acuity), ability to differentiate colours, and/or range of vision (visual fields).
  2. Low vision does not mean we are all the same. Low vision can affect each person differently. This has significant implications for information accessibility and real world testing of web sites.
  3. Making things big will not always help, although it might in some situations. We also need clarity and definition
  4. We don’t all need identical colour contrast although we will need good contrast
  5. While we may look at you while you direct us, we might not have a clue where you are pointing. You might need to describe more. It is not funny to make us try and guess who you are if we don’t immediately recognise you in the street.
  6. It you ask us how much we can see you may not get a sensible answer. You are asking for a comparison between what you and I can see.
  7. We may have other impairments which may present different issues in different situations
  8. We won’t all wear glasses and we don’t all use screen readers or Jaws, canes or guide dogs.
  9. There are a lot more of than you think. Over 80,000 New Zealanders are blind or live with a sight limitation that cannot be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. Of this number, only 11,500 are completely blind. Numbers will grow as our population ages.
  10. Like all disabled people, when we state our needs we are not being a nuisance or demanding – we need these things. We really need clear makings of the edges of steps for example. If you aren’t sure just ask, respectfully.

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Filed under Disability Issues, Disability Rights, Inclusion, Information Accessibility, Web Accessibility

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