Blogging is anyone’s game these days, people of all ages, different genders, different interests and all abilities are now taking up the hobby and making their mark on the blogging scene. It’s now one of the most modern ways for people to share their thoughts and opinions by also being a new way of connecting with other people who share the same interests or are going through similar experiences.
But, a question people often ask me is how accessible is blogging for someone who is visually impaired? How easy is it to write a post, spell check it, choose and add photos and also, how easy is it to read other people’s posts?
Since these are often questions that come up in conversation with some of my readers and even those I know offline, I thought it was only right to address them in one post and explain how accessible I personally find the blogging world as a visually impaired person.
My blogging platform
There are so many blogging platforms out there, Blogger and WordPress being two of the most popular. I know of many people who use Blogger/Blogspot purely for the simplicity of it and the ease of access it provides for them. I’ve mentioned a number of times before that my preferred platform is WordPress purely because it’s what works best with my screen reader.
Theme and design
I’ve changed my blog’s theme a number of times over the years and I’ve always had to have sighted assistance to do this just because I prefer having a fully sighted person’s opinion, I always feel better knowing that the theme of my blog looks presentable since I can’t judge that for myself.
Incase any of my fellow bloggers are interested, the theme I use now was a pre-made template by Pipdig which is a popular theme developer in the blogosphere. I find that it’s really easy to navigate and it works well with my screen reader.
There’s no doubt that writing posts is the most important aspect of blogging, I’ve received many questions about how I write my blog posts if I can’t see the keyboard and if I can’t see what comes up on the screen. Well, we’re lucky in the sense that we live in a world where there are advancements and improvements in technology everyday, the amount of assistive technology that is available to blind and partially sighted people these days is amazing.
Personally, I am a dedicated user of Apple products since their built-in accessibility features are second to none (in my opinion) when wanting to navigate a laptop or a phone.
I use Apple’s Macbook pro to write all of my blog posts or I jot something down in the notes app on my phone if an idea or sentence comes to mind when I’m out and about. I use the built-in screen reader called VoiceOver to navigate both these devices. It allows me to know where everything is on my screen and the words are read out to me as I’m typing. I also learned to touch type from a young age so I’ve learned where all the letters and symbols are on the keyboard.
When it comes to spell checking my posts, VoiceOver will normally announce ‘misspelt when I’m reading through so it’s easy for me to then make the changes I need to. There might still be a couple of mistakes here and there but nothing can be perfect, right?
For sighted people, visual content such as photos can often be as valuable as written content. The photos or design of someone’s blog can often determine if someone will read their posts or not so this aspect of blogging is important to me aswell even though I can’t see photos myself.
The photos within a blog post is probably one of the things people are most curious about when it comes to us VI bloggers. I must admit, it’s not the easiest of things to master but as with most things, there are ways around it.
The photos you see of me on my blog and social media are all taken by my lovely mum. She’s really dedicated to doing little photoshoots with me so that I have photos to add in my posts, I’m really grateful to her for that.
The flatlays such as the ones in this post are taken by me which I know can cause some confusion as I always highlight the fact that I have very little remaining vision. That’s true and it’s safe to say that I have no idea what the photos I take turn out like but here’s how I do it; I normally decide what kind of photo I want to take and what products/items I want within that photo. I place all the items on a fairly light background as I’ve been told that is what often looks best. It’s then all guess-work by the sense of touch. I place the products in different places on the background I have and then when they’re all in their place, I find which one is in the middle and navigate my camera from there, hoping that everything is in frame and that it turns out ok. I do sometimes have my mum or my brother with me when taking the photos as they can tell me where to hold the camera and what kind of angle looks best.
The photos I take aren’t perfect and it’s safe to say that a lot of the ones I take are complete failures but hey, it’s all a part of the fun.
When it comes to choosing the photos, I always ask my mum or my brother to choose and check them for me because I evidently can’t do that independently as most often than not, I have no idea of what the photo looks like. They also tell me if the photo needs to be a little brighter or dimmer and will help in terms of making those changes.
Social media is another important aspect of blogging, it’s what most people use to promote their posts and connect with other bloggers, myself included. Social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are fully accessible to me as a visually impaired person which makes it easy to promote my posts and find other bloggers to follow and interact with. I again use the VoiceOver feature on my phone and laptop to navigate these sites and I can normally do so without any problems.
I find that social media is where I interact with most people in terms of my blog posts and also theirs and I love that aspect of it.
Reading other’s blogs
When it comes to reading other people’s blogs, I again use the screen reader on my phone or laptop which is the only way I can read text these days. I have to say that I have had to click away from some people’s blogs or websites in the past because VoiceOver isn’t accessible with every site out there unfortunately.
I think the most frustrating thing when reading other’s blogs is when photo descriptions aren’t added to pictures within someone’s posts. I’m aware that not many people will know that it is possible to add a photo description and I don’t expect it to be something that is obvious to everyone. Adding photo descriptions make the experience of reading a blog post so much better for me as a visually impaired person as I always like to know what kind of photos someone has within their blog posts.
If you are a blogger and you didn’t know that it was possible to add descriptions to your photos, you can do so via the alt (alternative) tags on your pictures. This allows screen reader users to have an idea of what is included in the photos you have within your posts as the voice will read the description out to the reader.
Even if photo descriptions aren’t added, it doesn’t turn me away from the blog, I appreciate a person’s writing much more than photography as I evidently can’t see what a photo looks like. If I find it difficult to find where to leave a comment on someone’s post(s) then I will often contact them on social media to let them know my thoughts as I think it’s always nice to communicate with fellow bloggers and show them appreciation for their work.
The technology that I use makes reading fellow bloggers’ posts so much easier and I’m so glad that as a visually impaired person, I can appreciate someone’s blog just as much as a sighted person would.
Are you a visually impaired blogger? If so, how do you make blogging accessible to you? Also, if you have any questions for me in terms of blogging as a visually impaired person or how you can make your blog more accessible to those of us who are visually impaired, please do get in touch. I’d love to hear from you.