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Technology bill of rights needs to pass, Utah advocates for blind tell lawmakers

February 15th, 2010 Posted in Opinion

By Cathy Morgan

LOGAN–Utah members of the National Federation of the Blind traveled to Washington, D.C. recently to meet with Utah senators and congressmen, to discuss bills needing to be passed for the blind and visually impaired.

With focus on the Technology Bill of Rights, the visually impaired would be allowed to work kiosks at airports, touch screen thermostats, dishwashers and even copy machines in work offices. Voiceover is now available on the new Apple phone right out of the box so it’s evident the technology for these things is out there. It’s just a matter of getting it applied that is the issue.

Everette Bacon, an NFB board member in Utah, said that this bill will “allow equal access to many forms of technology we don’t have.

“The bill will help me with traveling, managing my home better and in my own job it’ll allow me to give better descriptions to products I’ve tried,” he added.

Willie Black, another member of the NFB, said, “One place this bill will help is in the work place. It will reopen the doors for us to work with simple tools like printers and fax machines.”

Touch screens and machines without buttons have caused many problems for the visually impaired in the work place. Black said he has to get help from employees to access his own business records or to make copies of invoices.

Having this bill passed will insure that most, if not all manufacturers take into account all of the people that are using their products. Black said, “I hope this bill makes manufacturers think about our needs as blind people and consider the needs of any disabled person before putting technology out there that we cannot use.”

As touch-screen technology becomes more popular, it has become evident that the visually impaired are either struggling in the work place or are becoming less confident in trying to work at all. Many people seem confident this bill will be passed within the next few years.

“We belong to a group that speaks out for itself and its members,” Black said. It seems the more people that show this bill attention, the less likely it will be ignored in office.


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