How Blind People Use Instagram
January 4, 2013 2:30 PM   Subscribe

Tommy Edison has been blind since birth. He wants to show you how he uses Instagram (previously).
posted by nadawi (15 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
That is straight up awesome.
posted by empatterson at 2:40 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

The accessibility tools built into both iPhone and Android phones are really impressive, at least from the perspective of a seeing, hearing person. I was playing with them the other day and thinking about the engineering struggles and considerations that have to go into making a complete glass surface responsive for people who can't see what's on it.

They're able to vibrate the phone, which helps, but for blind people, it's all strictly describing what's under your finger at every step. They've added some clever gestures and interesting things to make it as easy as possible to interact with things like lists and other interfaces that sighted people don't give any thought to.

The fact that voice recognition has literally grown leaps and bounds in terms of accuracy and even having the ability to perform offline speech recognition on Android is huge.

It doesn't hurt that computer-generated voice is so much better now as well (again, especially on Android JB: an immense improvement over even Siri in how natural it sounds).

Very neat link, thanks for posting. Try to enable your accessibility settings sometime and to play with your phone blind. It's fascinating how good it is, but it still makes you extremely grateful for having sight.
posted by disillusioned at 2:41 PM on January 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

He wants to show you how he uses Instagram.

To execute elephants with AC current?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:45 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

This is really cool, and I hope it doesn't sound assholish or condescending to point out, but if the pictures on my cellphone were on Instagram, his pictures are, on average, much, much, much better than mine.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:53 PM on January 4, 2013

George Hrab told a story once on his podcast about himself and Slau, a blind man who is one of George's closest friends. He was talking mostly about how they would move about the city together, and George would put his hand on his shoulder and give him physical cues and whatnot. They had developed a non-verbal language over the years and years that they both understood fluently. I won't give away the ending, but it was a really sweet story overall that gave me a similar feeling to the one this post inspired. I'm just so grateful for my sight, and so fascinated by the concept of blindness and inner-reality, especially in cases where the blindness was from birth. Thanks for this post.
posted by lazaruslong at 2:56 PM on January 4, 2013

Elrond and Maximus made a movie along these lines a long time ago.
posted by Relay at 3:26 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

I work for a not for profit that largely employs blind and low vision folks. The iPhone and voiceover/siri are hugely popular for this community, particularly for orientation and mobility, transit info, currency identification, color identifiers (gotta pick clothes that work together!) etc. Very cool stuff. I'll be sharing this video with coworkers!
posted by stenseng at 3:43 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

"Why I hold the phone up to my face like I can look through the thing is beyond me, but here we go!"
Love this.

I am very very grateful to the differently abled people who are willing to share their experiences on Youtube, like Tommy Edison or Tisha UnArmed. Because of course I am curious, but I don't want to ask or give attention unsolicited or unwanted.
posted by bobobox at 4:31 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

This is what technology is supposed to do, enable.
posted by tommasz at 4:39 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I expect before too long, Siri (or whoever narrates Android apps) will be able to integrate with current facial and smile recognition software, to enable a blind person to more accurately frame subjects in their photos. Something along the lines of:

"Face detected. Centering on face. Taking picture." or what have you.
posted by ShutterBun at 5:04 PM on January 4, 2013

this guy is blindfilmcritic on Youtube and he is great! I can see how he spilled over from his adventures in reviewing movies (he also notes how good they are for blind viewers -- such as how many scenes play out w/o any descriptive dialogue or narrative. For sighted viewers he describes what he hears, which I found entertaining.
posted by Librarygeek at 6:26 PM on January 4, 2013

Yay! More happy people fpps, pls.
posted by Glinn at 6:48 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I expect before too long, Siri (or whoever narrates Android apps) will be able to integrate with current facial and smile recognition software, to enable a blind person to more accurately frame subjects in their photos.

iOS can pretty much do that now with the default Camera app.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:08 PM on January 4, 2013

Yeah, I first heard of this in the early 1970s, when photographers started using Polaroid SX-70 instant cameras and got a surprising response from their friends with low vision.

My niece had low vision since birth, but she can see with assistive devices, if she can get her eye within a couple of inches of the screen. A few years ago, I was talking with my sister, and she was worried about how her daughter would make her way in the world, as she grew up and became a teenager. She was worried how her daughter could afford the expensive assistive devices supplied by her junior high school, once she became an independent adult. Offhandedly, I told my sister about this Photography For The Blind idea, and suggested she should buy her daughter an iPhone. Now my niece just loves her iPhone. She can see better through pics on her phone than she can just looking at the world unaided. And I had to hide her on my Facebook feed because she posts hundreds of pictures a week.

This is one thing that Apple really deserves praise for. They have always been very serious about making computers accessible. They were the first computer corporation to have a department that just did assistive programs, going back to the Apple II in the early 1980s. Their accessibility software is built as a core feature of the OS, on both Macs and iOS devices. Devices that did this stuff used to cost thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:10 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

I haven't even watched the entire video but I love him already because he makes it accessible to deaf people.
posted by desjardins at 8:39 AM on January 5, 2013

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