The Blind Perspective Philosophy: An important new tool to guide Software development for the Blind

Accessibility, technology
Peter Crumley
4 minutes reading time
December 1, 2020

App developers must be open to considering all potential approaches to move the development process forward and allow meaningful products. This includes philosophical shifts in knowledge and new ways of using these products. While embracing new approaches of thought is essential for all developmental processes, including the “Blind Perspective Philosophy" into the toolbox of product development is an absolute necessity.

An iPhone lays on a table in the dark. The screen is on and apps are glowing in the dark.
Photo by Rami Al-zayat on Unsplash

What is the blind perspective philosophy?

For any application to be meaningful to the blind audience, all features should be fully accessible. The product must be logically constructed to provide ease of use and a personalized experience. To accomplish this, developers need to gain a full understanding of the blind person’s perspective.

Usually, the concept of blind perspective is used to provide the sighted world an insight into the thought processing required by the blind to function independently in this visually-designed world. However, at this point, I believe it requires a clarification of meaning.

A philosophical shift in thinking that embraces the actual needs of the blind and visually impaired when designing infrastructure, products, or services is needed to expand accessibility and yield enhanced independence and societal inclusion for the blind. However, ironically, the sighted people have defined "the actual needs of the blind people" for a long time. Therefore, to ensure true inclusivity, a blind perspective philosophy should be adopted.

Principles of the blind perspective

To incorporate this new philosophy, a set of simple principles should be defined for all aspects of life: infrastructural design and construction, product design and production, and design and delivery of all services. Once the access of the blind has been established to these facilities, then by default, access of all other groups will be ensured. Removing the barriers that keep blind and low vision people from living independently will help us achieve full societal inclusion and establish occupational equality with their fully sighted peers.

A guide for blind app beta testers

Now that a basic understanding has been established, we can discuss the best approach in applying this new knowledge to app development for the blind. The best way forward is to include a team of knowledgeable blind users, who will give insights about using products or applications in ways that are not obvious to the developers. The developers should overcome another issue, which can be a common mistake: onboarding testers who do not possess the skills or knowledge to test the product for blind users.

To properly advise any developer, the blind tester must have complete knowledge of the application. He or she should be able to push the application past designed limitations, sustain the curiosity to suggest new features to accomplish blindness tasks not considered by the developer, and put their thoughts and suggestions in writing. Unfortunately, identifying knowledgeable blind app beta testers to establish a diverse peered review remains overlooked and undervalued by many recognized developers.

Supersense, as a developer for the blind user in this market, shows a willingness to bridge the gap between developers and blind end-users through their outreach efforts to gather knowledge from their blind clients. As a blind supporter and contributor to Supersense, I have been impressed by their willingness to accept my input.

I can only hope, as I do believe, my friends at Supersense will continue to apply input from their blind clients. Now that they know why "blind perspective philosophy" is crucial in the design and development process, they will be able to apply this new insight to accelerate Supersense's continued development!

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