What's "normal" for a visually impaired person
When the iPhone was launched many years ago, it was roughly at the same time as when I came out of university and found my first job. I have always been a fan of new technology, a phone with a touch screen was the coolest thing to own.
There was a problem, I’m totally blind, the worry in the visually impaired community was that eventually touch screen will become ubiquitous, the technology would be inaccessible to blind people. Fortunately, many good organisations such as RNIB in the UK, big technology companies such as Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Amazon etc all care about making sure that people with sight impairment are able to access their products and services, so that touch screens are generally very accessible without sight, photos shared in social media are given AI-driven text description; people with sight loss can be part of the “normal” society by virtue of being technology users, as well as being helped by technology.
Back to basic
What happens to the less cutting-edge stuff?
If you’re a sighted person who has a friend or colleague who cannot see, and you want to send them some love for their birthday or Christmas, we found that the options for sending a meaningful card that doesn’t feel like just a piece of blank paper, or isn’t a card that makes some tacky noises, was non-existent or very limited.
This shows that while big problems that blind people face when integrating into the normal society are being solved, some smaller day-to-day activities that people take for granted can still be improved. At Tactile Cards, we are glad that we can play a part in improving one particular aspect of greeting cards, which is that we think greeting cards are more than just a message on a card, or else a text message is equivalent but it’s not, a card should be expressive and we try to do this by making very tactile cards that a blind person can understand the card by touch.
Photo of Yan playing backgammon at i360 in preparation for Brighton Summer Open tournament 2018 ( Photo credit: Tim parffitt)
I have been blind since birth, I’d consider myself to have integrated in the “normal” society very well – I studied Physics and Philosophy in university, I currently have a job in marketing working for Facebook, I have a wonderful hobby – Backgammon – where I participate in tournaments where everyone else is sighted, and I have never done anything extraordinary like some blind people have done that you read in the news or see on TV, like climbing mount Everest nor am I a Paralympian. In other words, I am just like an average person you meet in the street, and this is the experience 99% blind people have (or rather, should have), that I want to use this space to share, so that as a sighted person, you can learn more about normal blind people and how you may be able to help, and if you are a blind person or have a friend who is blind, I hope that my experience can help you or your friend integrate.