22nd January 2019
Meet the Blind YouTubers Making the Internet More Accessible
To be blind on the internet, at its worst, is to be told that you are a liar. “Every time I say I’m visually impaired,” says Casey Greer. “someone will try to shut me down, saying ‘Well then how did you type this comment?!’ It feels silly that in 2019, I always have to explain that blind people use and love the internet just as much as anybody else.” The antidote? YouTube’s thriving community of blind creators, which includes Greer.
These creators have become voices for a poorly understood and often overlooked group of people, who, apparently unbeknownst to many sighted people, share digital space with them every single day. If you are sighted, visual impairment YouTube answers questions you likely never thought to ask: How do blind people keep houseplants? Do blind people understand concepts like “translucent” or “reflective”? How do they use Instagram? And how do their Tinder matches react when they find out they’re blind? In offering a window into their lives, not only have these YouTubers become de facto educators for the general public, but also they’ve become rallying points for the broader visually impaired community—a place to share stories and tips about navigating the world, online and off.
On first examination, YouTube doesn’t seem like the most natural fit for visually impaired people. Along with Instagram, it’s the social platform that relies least on things that can easily be spoken aloud by your screen reader. But for some blind YouTubers, like Tommy Edison, that’s exactly why they got into the game. “I went to see Tropic Thunder and all the resolution was visual,” Edison says. “I’d spent two hours with these characters, and in the end, I had no idea what the heck had happened to them.” He turned that frustrating experience into a YouTube channel: the Blind Film Critic.