I started this petition on Change.org, because of the perceived lack of demand, appliance manufacturers have been reluctant to build inexpensive voice/touch technology into their products, thereby making them inaccessible to the blind. There are approximately seven million blind or low-vision people living in the United States today, and that number is growing every day, due to causes ranging from birth defects, diabetes, to combat injuries, etc. We clean, do laundry, iron, sew, and travel independently. We are foodservice managers, attorneys, scientists and more. And yet, when it comes to operating our touch panel home appliances we are practically helpless. Why?, because appliance manufacturers refuse to incorporate inexpensive technology that already exists—such as those used in smartphones and iPads that make their flat panel appliances accessible to the blind.
By including audio cues, speech output, or tactile buttons, manufacturers will reduce the likelihood that a blind or sighted person will inadvertently touch a spot on a panel and turn on a burner without knowing it, potentially causing a fire or serious personal injury. Without accessible technology being offered to consumers, people who were once able to cook and clean independently could well find themselves unable to live alone in their own homes.
But it doesn’t have to be this way! If manufacturers incorporate inexpensive audio and/or tactile technology into their products, they will make a huge difference in the safety of the blind and others as well as the ability of the blind to continue to lead their lives independently, while simultaneously gaining thousands, if not millions, of newly satisfied customers. This is good for blind people who will remain independent; good for manufacturers who will sell products that the blind can use and that are safer for all who buy them; and good for society, which will not be asked to help normally competent human beings live in assisted living or nursing facilities simply because new appliances do not have displays they can read.
By signing our petition, you will be showing your support and telling the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers to work in collaboration with the National Federation of the Blind to get their manufacturer members to incorporate these immeasurable improvements in the quality of life, convenience, and safety of the blind and those who are losing their vision.
Thank you for your support,
National Federation of the Blind