Visual Independence; What is it?Published on
Think about what independence means to you. Are you thinking of freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Well, visual independence (VI) is all of those things for people who have a visual disability. Did you know, being able to live independently for many people depends on businesses following the laws? Laws really do serve a greater purpose.
Think about independence in your life. A lot of your ability to self-manage depends on being able to read. You read bills, statements, medical records, insurance documents, tax papers, loan terms, and more. As a result, you can make decisions based on your reading. Well, a person with a visual disability can read. They just read in a different way, using different tools. These tools are called assistive technology (AT). The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires businesses and organizations to supply some items to assist a person with a visual disability. This assistance is known as equal access—another way of saying equality.
What are businesses required to provide?
It can be hard to know what you are required to provide. So, we are here to help. According to the ADA’s Effective Communication Guide, anything in regular print must also be available in an accessible format. This includes but is not limited to billing statements, change notices, medical records, financial statements, insurance documents, mortgage statements, rental invoices, and more. Think of it this way, any documents you deem necessary in your daily independence are likely important for a person with a visual disability.
Great, what is an accessible format? We thought you’d never ask. Well, an accessible format is a different way to read standard print, like braille, and accessible items vary. The accessible format depends on a person’s ability level. For instance, a person who is completely blind would not be able to read large print. They might require a braille document, an audio file, or an accessible digital format. Digital formats need to follow either 508 or Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) standards. Likewise, a person who has limited vision might not read braille. You see, this is why the law is based on a person’s need. The accessible format should fit a person’s needs. And needs are based on ability.
A Benefit to Your Organization
Visual independence is important to you and not just because of state and federal mandates. It is important because millions of Americans cannot read what you are sending to them. This equates to revenue loss and potential liability. It also takes away a person’s ability to manage their life independently.
How does this benefit you? People with visual disabilities have buying power, a lot of it. In fact, working-age Americans with disabilities make up about 500 billion in yearly post-tax disposable income. That is a lot of buying power. There is a lot of competition in today’s free market. Imagine getting an edge just by following the laws. You can provide visual independence and increase your bottom line. This is what we call a win-win.
Gain vs Cost
Considering that ADA lawsuits have risen, many states have tacked on additional penalties. So, being caught not in compliance will cost you big time. But ignore that for now. Let’s look at what you gain.
By providing visual independence for clients, you are creating trust across the board. And, this trust isn’t just in the disability community. As a result of doing the right thing, you are letting consumers know that all people matter. Think about this: with one simple change you can be an industry leader. You will also be a champion for people with disabilities. All of this and you’re gaining new clients. Oh, and your business will grow. That’s a lot of benefits.
Ready To Provide Visual Independence
You are probably thinking, I want to do the right thing and provide visual independence. Guess what, many people, like you, want to do the right thing. But they don’t know where to start. Well, this next step is the easy part when you pick the right partner. We know it can seem overwhelming to figure out a product that you might know little to nothing about. Hey, don’t worry because Braille Works has been around for over 25-years. We are an industry leader in accessible documents. So please, contact us today to learn about the variety of options we have to offer. And you can take the first step to provide visual independence for your clients.
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