Many popular social media sites are text, image and video based, meaning those who are blind can find it difficult to fully engage with the content and interact with other users. However, since its launch almost three years ago, social sound network Audioboo has attracted a worldwide following in the visually impaired community. This is not only due to voice being a natural communication tool for such communities, but also because the desktop platform and apps have been built with full accessibility to record, listen to and share audio in mind.
Audioboo recognised the potential that the platform offered the blind and partially sighted community, and ensured accessibility was at the fore of its recent app and desktop redevelopments. The Royal London Society for the Blind (RLSB) not only runs its own channel on Audioboo, but the organisation is an avid supporter of the platform and is currently working on full integration with its new website.
Dr Tom Pey, Chief Executive of the RLSB, said: "Technology propels people forward every day. It has the power to open doors to new learning, new friendships and new possibilities. But this power can only be harnessed and enjoyed by people when a piece of technology is accessible and engaging. For many of the blind and partially sighted young people that RLSB works with, Audioboo is the perfect example of a technological tool that is both of these things. Our channel is a hub for news and information, so vision impaired young people can follow us and find out about exciting services, events and opportunities that are exclusively available to them."
The internet, apps and social networks are often taken for granted by sighted people – if a tool or platform isn't accessible to those who rely on screen readers, it can make the difference between a blind person being able to use it or not. While technology can make a significant difference in both leisure time and work to visually impaired people, so easily, they can be excluded from communities and day-to-day communications and the latest trends, such as social media.
Amy, an everyday user, commented: "I feel a part of the Audioboo community, but I also feel very much a part of the growing visually impaired community on Audioboo which is really, really great. It's really supportive, and it's growing, and I'm proud to be a part of it. App-wise, Audioboo is really accessible."
Rob Proctor, Audioboo's CEO explained: "The feedback we have been getting from organizations like the RLSB and direct from users with sight impairment has been immensely positive, and we're hearing that Audioboo is making a real difference to the lives hundreds of people across the world. It has fast become the social network for blind people, as it is breaking down barriers and opening up new worlds for learning, communication and friendship."