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November 29, 2014

Technology is a fascinating thing. They can put a robot on a comet but they can’t make a reliable tumble dryer. They can launch a missile from a submarine and send it hurtling inland to turn a goat shed to dust, but they can’t make a reliable laptop.

as a blind person I rely heavily on technology – I use my I phone to read my post, to read books and to check e-mail and browse the internet. I use my laptop, along with a programme called Jaws to write, to do shopping and other fairly mundane tasks. I am of course hugely grateful for such clever tech, without which I would lead a very different life.

However, the comment I get from sighted people again and again is, “Isn’t that amazing, it makes your life so much easier.” This is both right and wrong. It is of course amazing that I can take a photo of a letter and have my phone read it, but if the average person had an idea of how frustrating, how sluggish and difficult, how fickle the technology was, I’m sure they’d run away and hide in a wardrobe.

For example, most websites are rubbish. You have to actually learn how to use each one and hope that Jaws, a piece of software that reads what’s on the screen, will actually do its job. Despite legislation, the internet is still a frustrating place. The amount of key presses, of keyboard shortcuts, of faffing just to do basic things in a nightmare. What used to be a click of a mouse is now half a dozen keystrokes, if remembered incorrectly resulting in a fatal crash or hang.

So, technology is amazing, but it is also pretty shit! For example, often you come across websites that ask you to input a strange group of numbers and letters to prove you have a soul. Fine.. in theory. Sometimes they have an audio capture version that either doesn’t work or is impossible to understand. Now, I don’t have a pet sighted person chained to a wall somewhere, waiting for me to call him for assistance, so there’s nothing I can do in this situation.

Some websites are just plain difficult to use, spawning a whole community of people who make it their task to think up alternative ways just to click a sodding button! It really doesn’t have to be this hard. I have a laptop and a piece of software that cost £600 plus. They can put a robot on an asteroid, but they still can’t make reliable and fast websites.


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