Ban the Bulb?

Discussions about banning the incandescent light bulb have existed for some time. The incandescent light bulb is already phased out in some countries. The concept is to save energy and the environment, which is very praiseworthy.

Why is this news on a blog about accessibility and technical communication? We technical communicators who are not blind do need light to do our work – reading and writing on paper or on screen. The quality of that light is important. We should not have to strain our eyes to see (possibly resulting in headaches and so on). It is important that the lighting in our work areas and homes provides the amount of light we require to do our work. Personally, I have been all for the energy-saving light bulbs. A few years ago, a lighting expert told me that with my aging near-sighted eyes (it's all downhill after age 40 :-)), I should only use the incandescent bulbs. The energy-saving light bulbs were not providing enough light for me, so my brain would compensate to "fill in the blanks", resulting in strain just to see. I don't recall her exact wording, but I discovered that she was right. I felt more relaxed – both physically and mentally – when I had an incandescent light bulb in the reading lamp. Reading, kitchen work, computer work – it was all more enjoyable.

Therefore, it was a surprise and shock to read at the end of 2008 that the European Union approved an EU-wide ban on the so-called traditional light bulb by 2012. In the middle of arguments about saving the environment, an environmentally oriented German consumer protection agency pronounced that the ban was not wise for various reasons, including health reasons. (You can read about this in an English-language article from Spiegel Online or find the October 2008 article from the site (in German only) of the German consumer protection agency.

The latest stir comes from the excellent Ouch! – the BBC's website "that reflects the lives and experiences of disabled people." In the latest blog entry, Ouch! asks "Are you incandescent with rage over lightbulbs?" Go read the article to learn more. Comment on their site or here on your faithful Accessible Techcomm blog! Let's shed more light on this topic!