Sightless Works

Last updated: May 30, 2016

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Working with technical communication means keeping our minds open to the diversity of our audience "out there" in the real world. This is especially the case when we spice things up with accessibility.

There are many stories that expand our horizon and make us rethink our attitudes. The New York Times posted such a story today called "In Blindness, a Bold New Artistic Vision".

The article tells the story of John Bramblitt, an artist, who gained a new "artistic vision" after he lost his vision over a 20-year period. The story is interesting, but there were two comments from Mr. Bramblitt that carry special value for this writer.

'I didn’t so much lose my sight as I lost my freedom,' he said. 'I was trapped in my own head.'

How often do we, as writers, find ourselves trapped in one point of view, unable to find the release of that new angle that leads us to new ideas and new growth? I am not comparing blindness to writer's block. I feel this statement carries the idea of technical communication without consideration for the barriers that prevent our readers or users from fully enjoying (or enjoying at all!) the fruits of our work. That is being trapped and missing out on the creative and exciting challenge of providing universal access to our work.

As for being a blind person or having epilepsy, John Bramblitt says it's "just another aspect of who I am." This is the second – subtle – comment that struck me as notable. How often are people with disabilities identified as exceptions, outsiders, outliers – and difficult to fit in our equations or perceptions? The disabilities are a part of those people and something that should be factored into our work naturally and without a fuss: captioning, alternate formats, testing (for usability and accessibility), web standards, and so on.

Was that reading too much into these comments? How do you interpret them? Express your opinion in the comment box! See more of his work.

PS You can view John Bramblitt's works at Sightless Works or visit his website, which includes a link to his blog.

PPS Thanks to @AFB1921 for bringing the New York Times article to our attention.