The Challenges of Surfing While Blind


The other day while going about my business on the Internet, I hit a brick wall: a map of the United States.

I was diagnosed at 28 with retinitis pigmentosa and declared legally blind at 41. I no longer see the screen well enough to use my mouse to point and click. But with a standard laptop and some software that reads the screen to me in a voice that sounds like Stephen Hawking’s, I can accomplish nearly everything that I once did with a mouse using memorized key commands.

Universal Design (UD) is an approach to design that increases the potential for developing a better quality of life for a wide range of individuals. It is a design process that enables and empowers a diverse population by improving human performance, health and wellness, and social participation (Steinfeld and Maisel, 2012). It creates products, systems, and environments to be as usable as possible by as many people as possible regardless of age, ability or situation.