I am severely visually impaired. In fact, I have only about 10% of my sight remaining. Fortunately for me, that 10% is central vision, so I still manage to get around and to use a computer. Recently I was attending a support group for the blind and visually impaired in my city. When some of the attendees found out I entered sweepstakes, they were very interested in learning how they could also enter and whether someone with visual impairments was able to pursue this hobby. They invited me to speak about this at their next meeting in May. This lead me to do a little research, so I decided to write this post to encourage those with visual impairments to give sweepstaking a shot!
People in my support group have varying degrees of blindness from total blindness, to some peripheral vision, to blurred vision, and like me, a small bit of central vision. These conditions are not correctible by wearing glasses. This means that, depending on the extent of the disability, different people would have different options available to them for entering sweepstakes.
The first thing I researched was website accessibility. According to Wikipedia, “Web accessibility refers to the inclusive practice of removing barriers that prevent interaction with, or access to websites, by people with disabilities. When sites are correctly designed, developed and edited, all users have equal access to information and functionality.” Do all websites currently comply with web accessibility? Not yet. Are they supposed to under to the ADA?
According to www.computercourage.com:
“Over time, the ADA legislation has evolved to include access to spaces in the digital world. And there have been serious consequences imposed by the courts for sites that fail to do so.
Since the intent of the ADA is to provide “full and equal enjoyment” for people with varying disabilities, this has wide-ranging implications on websites. These digital spaces must be accessible to individuals using assistive devices such as screen readers and speech recognition software for vision impairments. Users must also have the ability to interact with a website without using a mouse or touchscreen.”
If you find it difficult to navigate online sweeping — for instance if your screen reader software has difficulty with forms — sometimes sweepstakes have entry options other than online entry. There are a good amount of contests that you can enter via telephone. These include both national contests and local radio call-in contests. You might also try to enter some local giveaways in person. A friend or store associate can help you fill out a ballot and put it in the draw box. If you use speech recognition software and are the creative type, you may try to enter some essay and writing contests. There are also a number of contests specifically geared toward the blind. For instance, in the past there was a “Blind Sight” Photography Contest (https://www.oh-i-see.com/blog/2013/02/07/see-differently-blind-sight-photography-contest/).
So, as time moves forward, sweepstaking is becoming a hobby that any sighted or visually impaired person can participate in. I think progress is being made in web accessibility compliance, and hopefully in the near future, it will not even be an issue.