Software developer Tuukka Ojala recently posted about how he works without the benefit of sight. Ojala, who is almost totally blind, explains how he does his work with the help of a braille keyboard and display, and synthetic speech.
His situation is not unique. A Stack Overflow thread asking how blind people program includes responses from people all over the world, complete with thoughts on which tools are best suited to blind programmers, as well as technology under development.
That particular thread is a few years old and surely outdated now, but much more has been published in the meanwhile, like Parham Doustdar’s Tools of a Blind Programmer, and Saqib Shaikh’s YouTube video demonstrating how he programs.
Software developers don’t always show a lot of interest in accessibility. It’s something you might not appreciate until you encounter a blind user deftly navigating your program or website.
When I shared Tuukka Ojala’s post on LinkedIn, it drew more attention than just about anything else I’ve shared. It’s an uplifting story of living a productive everyday life in spite of an extraordinary challenge.
It’s also a nice success story for software accessibility and how it opens the door to computing for many people. This is no edge case: worldwide, 39 million people are blind, and 246 million have low vision.
For me, though, these stories are also a reminder of an inspiring tech industry success story from my college days.