I am a 20-year-old woman from Naga City, Camarines Sur, and I am blind. I became visually impaired in 2014 because of my medical condition, hydrocephalus.
I’m a Bachelor of Secondary Education Major in English student at University of Nueva Caceres. I’m into literature. I love to read and write poetry and stories. Writing is also my avenue for my voice to be heard since I am a shy girl. My greatest dream is to become a famous writer like Helen Keller. She inspires me a lot by showing the world that blindness is no hindrance to expressing how she sees society through writing.
I am also a youth who wants to promote the importance of inclusivity in society. I am a former City Youth Councilor in Naga City. Being the first-ever blind person to become part of the City Youth Officials opened my heart even more to persons with visual impairment. I want those who are blind and with low vision to be known not because of their disability but as part of society.
As a girl living in the modern era, I could say that social media is part of my daily life. I am fond of posting inspirational stories, essays, photos, videos and even fan girl stuff which my followers like to see on my account. Social media also helps me to connect to the world by getting news of current events, happenings and trends. And since I am a fan girl, I use social media to look out for the latest updates from my favorite celebrities and about music.
Social media is also the place where I have found my circle of friends who have the same interests as me. It feels like I’ve found a new family through my phone. As a student, I also go online to communicate with my teachers through Facebook groups, Messenger group chats, etc. There are also instances when our lessons and topics are uploaded to social media applications. It became easier for us students to download and review our lessons in just one click.
While social media is inclusive for people with visual impairment, it’s not fully accessible. I encounter pictures without text descriptions on them. Sometimes, it saddens me to know that I cannot react together with the sighted people.
If it is a meme, I cannot laugh with them because I cannot relate since I do not see how funny those pictures are. If it’s a photo of my favorite celebrity, I cannot shriek or feel those butterflies inside my stomach if I do not have any idea of how they look in the picture.
It’s also a struggle when I encounter unlabeled buttons. Changes and updates can be confusing as well, as they usually mean moving items and merging sections.
Whenever I experience these nonfriendly situations, I ask for assistance from my sister or whoever is there. They help me by describing the pictures, videos and many more. I am thankful for them for they accommodate me wholeheartedly.
To make the web content accessible to individuals with visual impairment, there should be accurate text descriptions on photos, automatic audio descriptions for videos and no unlabeled buttons.
The inclusivity of persons who are blind and with low vision in social media is essential, too.
I have experienced being bullied online because some people thought I was faking my blindness. I got mad but I fought for myself. I started writing posts about my life and my disability. I shared the challenges that I have experienced and how I overcame them. I wanted to inspire people.
I realized that this was my little way of making society aware about the community of the visually impaired. My advocacy is to promote inclusivity and awareness toward persons with visual impairment.
We should use social media as an instrument to be heard, to raise awareness, and to promote inclusivity in society. We should also be responsible for how we interact with the social media world. It is diverse and we will meet a lot of people online. Let us educate them and think before we click.—CONTRIBUTED INQ