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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

social networking sites and more

I am a doctoral student who is interested in the use of social networking sites by visually impaired and blind individuals between the ages of 18-35. I've read about some of the problems associated with many of the most popular sites (such as MySpace or FaceBook) in gaining full and easy access to these sites (for example, regarding the use of CAPTCHA technology).

I am interested in the feedback of individuals who have experienced difficulties in gaining access to social networking sites. Furthermore, I am interested in how individuals interact with those in their local communities and forge connections (e.g., via the internet or by other means within the local community). Any feedback (however brief) to the 13 questions provided below would be appreciated greatly, but detailed responses would be extremely useful also!

Some of the specific questions I am interested in include:

1. How do you normally learn about information regarding issues that are related to being visually impaired or blind?

2. What issues relating to being visually impaired or blind are important to you? That is, are you interested in learning about technological advancements, research, etc. Or, is having social support more (or just as) important to you?

3. How important is it to you to make social connections with other visually impaired or blind individuals via the internet through organizations like the AFB?

4. How important is it to you to make social connections with other visually impaired or blind individuals in your day-to-day life? If it is important, how do you go about meeting other such individuals?

5. If a physical interactive board (as opposed to virtual, website-based one) provided information related to issues regarding the visually impaired and blind was available at a facility in your local area, would you use it? How important is it to you that such a system enable you to post messages for others in the community regarding meetings or other types of notifications?

6. What type of information would you like to be included on such a board (e.g., social gatherings or support, or local cultural events, general news, etc.)?

7. What medium for information exchange on such a board would be best? For example, would you prefer to use a touch-based system, a sound-based system, a combination of the two, or some other type of interactive system entirely?

8. Would you be interested in using a community-based website which caters to visually impaired and blind individuals? If so, do you currently use such a site, and if so which one(s)?

9. In reference to the previous question, what kind of information would you find useful on a community-based website?

10. Do you belong to any social networking sites? If so, which ones?

11. Does the use of CAPTCHA technology deter you from using a site?

12. What solutions might work to overcome the current problems with sites that use CAPTCHA technology (for example an audio version of CAPTCHA), and if they were implemented would you use more readily use these sites?

13. Are you interested in using a social networking site that caters specifically to blind and visually impaired individuals (for example, Do you currently use any of these sites?

Thank you in advance for any assistance that you might be able to provide, and in particular for your time and consideration!

Best regards,
J. S. Curtis

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Re:social networking sites and more

Mr. Curtis, I appreciate your survey and hope you get plenty more responses via this site and whatever else you may be using for data. At the present time, I am not really involved with other blind persons other than 2 close friends whom I e-mail frequently. One is a work acquaintance in another state, and the second a retired adult whom I knew in grade school. When I lived out east several years ago I was active with ACB and the VP of our chapter. Now, I am married, have 2 teenage kids, live in a small town and aside from working as a Medical Transcriptionist, avocational interests, am fairly tied up with their lives. I prefer sound media, and would like to see sites that include info for both blind/sighted i.e. given the aging baby-boomer generation. Yes, I am gravely affected by sites that require one to enter an image or code, can't do. Presently, having problems subscribing and unsubscribing to given yahoogroups, reply function doesn't seem to work to satisfy confirmation to do, either. I value those sites that offer low graphics or text options to surf, have little use for Adobe. I cannot afford to always run out and purchase the latest gadget purposed to make everything easy, it doesn't nor do the perported upgrades. I am using 5-year-old software, works fine today. Hope this helps, and again wish you well on your presentation. David in MI

Re: social networking sites and more

I, too, wish you the best of luck on the survey and hopefully you will gain lots of great information. I, too, have encountered websites with this CAPTCHA technology which you speak of, and the only type of CAPTCHA that is acceptable to me is text-based. Such CAPTCHA's include those found on this website, where one is required to enter a word or phrase prior to submitting a comment. I've also seen text-based math problems, i.e., 4 plus 1 where the user is required to solve the problem and type in their answer. Audio CAPTCHA's do not work in my view, because they exclude people who are either completely deaf or are hard-of-hearing. Regarding meeting other people with visual impairments, I have 2 siblings and some friends who are visually-impaired. I have never gotten involved with the ACB or NFB, but I've been to a couple functions organized by the local chapter of one and a national convention of the other organization when it was held in my state. My opinion is that, while these organizations have indeed done some great things, there's just too much politics involved. I have tried to stay out of politics over the years. This might seem a bit silly to some, but there you go. Hope I've answered your questions well. If you need or want further information, I can be reached at . Cheers and take care.

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