Knowledge of IT provides the visually impaired an opportunity to integrate into society. This is possible, due to the capability of access technology based on IT to provide voice and tactile output. Thus, IT is able to substitute the visual signals of traditional ways of doing things, into forms of output more convenient for the visually impaired. This is done through a range of hardware and software components like sound blaster cards, screen readers and scanners.
Such opportunities thrown up by IT for the visually impaired are in the following areas:
? Education & Information
? Personal life
Opportunities for Education & Access to Information
Many books today are available in CD or DVD formats. These soft copies of books can be easily accessed by the visually impaired through voice or Braille output. Devices like scanners help to convert the conventional reading material into forms accessible by the visually impaired. On top of this, access to the Internet provides a huge opportunity for the visually impaired to integrate into the world of exploding information.
Access to Technology provided by IT ensures that the visually impaired can easily integrate into the work force. The kind of career that IT enables the visually impaired to get into can be summarized into 2 categories:
IT related careers like Medical transcription- this job involves very little of eyes and more depends on hearing, software analysts and programmers
Non- IT careers ranging from business managers to social workers
Opportunities to Enhance Quality of Personal Life
Tasks done in personal life like sending letters, sending emails and keeping accounts and diaries are made convenient for the visually impaired due to the availability of access technology.
Threats of IT for the Visually Impaired
The world is going through a knowledge revolution today. IT is the main engine for this revolution. Unlike such revolutions in the past like the agrarian or the industrial revolution, social groups not participating in the revolution are likely to be marginalized. The criteria of determining whether a person is a literate in a knowledge economy and society is whether a person understands IT or not. So, in the context of the knowledge revolution, if the visually impaired do not know about IT, they could be further marginalized in society.
Thus, knowledge of IT provides for tremendous opportunities for the visually impaired