I’d just like to take a short trip down memory lane for a bit because it’s a bit freezing tonight and there isn’t anything good on Blindy TV at the moment. For the sighted people, you may want to skip this post because the soap box that I’m about to go on won’t make any sense to you guys, just kidding.
I was on Facebook trying to gather all of my blind friends into a nice list where I can easily access them. My list is populated by a bunch of sighted people. While I’m definitely inclusive, at that moment I wished that there were a place just for blind people like there used to be.
Back in 2010 there was a site that was revolutionary and inclusive all at the same time. More importantly, it placed the blind user first and we didn’t have to go on a three year campaign to try to legally force this website to be accessible to screen readers and keyboard navigation. All of the blind people know what I am talking about. It was a community, a place to share blind things, laugh about blind things, post blind blogs, host blind podcasts, and meet only blind people. That site was called blink nation.
Blink Nation was created by Dusty. I don’t remember his title or what he did for a living but I know that a simple voluntary act opened up an entire community, not just for me, but for others.
Before Blink Nation, a social network for the blind, the blind and the visually impaired had to deal with inaccessible social networks. There was Klango but Blink Nation had a kind of simplicity that Klango didn’t, in my opinion. Plus, as the days went by, the community grew. I’ve met many people on Blink Nation that I would never meet on Klango.
The site was hacked and forced off the internet, and that’s a huge shame. I didn’t like The Zone BBS because it didn’t feel like a place to meet blind people. It was a site for gamers first and meeting people second. I didn’t use Klango a lot because Klango was a media service more than a social network. I did definitely like Blink Nation. It was simple, and it also allowed me to just kill an afternoon by reading blogs and listening to podcasts about other blind people talking the sightless talk and even giving tips. I could even meet these people, send private messages without them feeling like I was inappropriately deviating from the site’s intension. I’ve contributed some of my own blogs as well and thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the people I’ve met because of it. I had a blog on there that many read, and some new people found it and liked it and that led to Skype chats, and keeping in touch years later. I was Blogging about my first time in a blindness center.
Sighted people were fun, and fun to be around, but Blink Nation was a neighborhood that I didn’t have to explain things to or that I didn’t have to pass a 200 question quiz about my daily life to be accepted. It was a blind community on the internet that provided a blind world that we could all go to when we didn’t want to be in the sighted world.
I followed a really epic blog about a woman getting her guide dog. The best part of all? She wasn’t alone. Dozens could hear her story in a single place. If she published a blog elsewhere in the hopes that it would reach a lot of blind people, she’d have to do a lot of tweeting. There, we all could read it, listen to her podcasts, and even look at her profile and message her without the sighted.
I know that our goal is to be inclusive, educate, and explain as well as advocate but sometimes, as I’m fishing through places trying to meet blind people, that someone could make Blink Nation again. While we should include ourselves with the sighted community sometimes you just want to be with your own and that’s something none of these social media sites will offer blind people, no matter how accessible they are. We don’t have a blind place to go anymore, and that’s the thing I miss the most. Man, the old days were definitely the good ones, huh?