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Writing When You’re Blind

Assistive technologies for the disabled (or differently abled, if you prefer) continue to improve. Back in the 1990s, I used to volunteer at a place in northern Virginia called Telecommunications Exchange For the Deaf, Inc., or TEDI. Deaf callers would reach us using acoustic modem TTYs (short for “text telephones” or “teletypewriters”), little laptop-sized machines with a single line display of blue LED text, an interface pretty close to Speak & Spell. We volunteers would then read the messages out loud over the phone to their target. Or we’d do the reverse, typing messages from phone callers into the TTY. About 80% of the calls we relayed came from Gallaudet University students ordering pizza.

I’m sure SMSing and Dominos’ high-tech website have rendered TEDI obsolete for the deaf. But what about the blind? Computers are still visually oriented. So today I did a cursory investigation into assistive writing technology for the blind.

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