Sunday, March 29, 2009

I Am More Exposed to Identity Theft

The title of this blog is a true statement. I am making this observation because as a blind person I can see where this particular group of persons is probably the most vulnerable when it comes to identity theft. True it is that seniors and persons with other types of disabilities run a very close second, but please allow me to explain a bit further.

As a person with precious little vision, I have to depend on my sighted family and friends to help me navigate through the mounds of paper generated forms. When it comes to filling out those cumbersome online forms, it's a whole new ball game. How does this make me feel? I'll tell you: helpless, vulnerable, scared, and left wondering who is really listening or really cares?

Each time I need to complete hard copy forms, it means that I have no choice but to share personal and confidential information with someone else and it means that I have to trust that person to keep my information private and confidential. I have to trust that the information I give is what is going to be written down exactly as I wish it to be and that the person completing information on my behalf will not copy that information on a separate piece of paper for their later use. In addition, I have to trust that the person reading the information to me is reading exactly what is there and not reading something else that they may choose to make up.

When it comes to completing those cumbersome and complicated online forms, I have to depend on either my screen reader software to tell me exactly what is being required or, if that is not possible, I have to depend on sighted assistance. At the present time, screen reader software still faces many challenges when it comes to being able to decipher the contents of forms and why is this? Because many website developers do not take the time to ensure that the forms have been designed to be accessible and usable. Just think of it in this way: If sighted persons have difficulty completing forms online, then the challenge for someone who is blind or visually impaired becomes twice or thrice as difficult.

So, the picture is this: If I am unable to complete forms on my own, then I must depend on a person with sight to help me which requires that I place complete trust in that person to read accurately to me and write accurately for me. This puts me in a very vulnerable position and opens me up to identity theft. There is a growing demand for forms to be provided in alternate formats. This means that forms need to be provided in a format whereby blind and visually-impaired persons will be able to read and complete their own forms independently.

If you would like to learn more about the meaning of alternate formats then you can visit This Canadian-based company provides alternate formats to those who are print-disabled which includes blind and visually impaired persons.

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your accessibility and special-needs business consultant wishing you a terrific day and encouraging you to go out there and start advocating for more information to be produced in alternate formats. It will not only help those with vision problems, but millions of others who are print disabled.

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