Advocacy works. In April, Albert J. Rizzi, Founder and Executive Director of My Blind Spot, met with Suffolk County Legislator Jay H. Schneiderman (I-Montauk). The result: on June 4, 2013, County lawmakers approved a resolution that the Suffolk County government website, Internet Connection, be made accessible to the print disabled.
Print-disabled individuals are those who, due to a visual, physical, perceptual, developmental, cognitive or learning disability, cannot read printed material, including information that is posted on the internet. In the case of County government, such information includes notifications about government services; postings of job opportunities; emergency response measures; weather watches; and notices of meetings or public hearings.
There is a solution. Software exists that allows print-disabled persons to access the content of web pages by hearing text on the screen read aloud. That software must be properly set up so it can interface with screen reader software on the personal computers of the print disabled. In Suffolk County, this had not been done.
In a press release from his office, Mr. Schneiderman is quoted as saying: “Mr. Albert Rizzi, Founder of My Blind Spot and member of the Suffolk County Disability Advisory Board, approached me in April, requesting that this vital improvement be made to County web sites and web pages for the print-disabled community. It is essential for the County’s websites and web pages to be accessible to all of our residents.”
The bill calls for integrating the coding necessary for screen reading software into each County web page. The Department of Information Technology is authorized and directed to incorporate such coding modifications for all public County websites and web pages.
“We couldn’t be happier about the outcome.” said Mr. Rizzi. “It’s great to work with legislators who understand the issues and want to work with us to achieve equal access and inclusion.”
My Blind Spot, based in New York City, is a national nonprofit, dedicated to advancing equal access and promoting understanding, respect, and opportunity for the blind, the visually impaired, and the print disabled.