Braille Monitor                                     May 2017

(contents) (next)

Teaching Designers about Nonvisual Access

Amy Mason demonstrates screen-reading software for Towson students on one of the computers in the IBTC

One of the reasons why technology is so seldom created with accessibility in mind is that too many developers simply cannot conceive of blind people using the mainstream products they design. A superb way to demonstrate the interest of blind people in this technology to those who will be designing it in the future is to talk with them when they are in the process of getting a degree, and there is no better ambassador than Jonathan Lazar, a professor at Towson University in Baltimore, when it comes to connecting blind people and soon-to-be computer scientists.

On February 24, 2017, Jonathan and his students visited the International Braille and Technology Center at the Jernigan Institute to see the technology blind people use, the things it allows us to do, and the things that are made difficult or impossible because of shortsighted design. The staff of the International Braille and Technology Center demonstrated screen-reading programs, Braille displays, 3D printing, tactile graphics, and even how low-tech solutions can be used to demonstrate meaningful concepts. One example was the use of LEGOs to show the layout of the Windows desktop.

This is a tremendous beginning and one we should work to expand throughout the country. Not every computer science major can visit our Jernigan Institute as the students in the Human and Computer Interactions class were able to do, but many of our chapters can get invited to classes and teach soon-to-be designers that there should always be a nonvisual alternative in the toolbox of every program they design.

Mark Riccobono speaks with a few Towson students

Amy Mason and Mark Riccobono speak to Jonathan Lazar and his Towson students in the International Braille and Technology Center (IBTC) at Jernigan Institute

Media Share

Facebook Share

(contents) (next)