How do I market to the visually impaired?

I have a service around audio journaling. The basic idea is that someone subscribes and they receive a phone number that they call and talk about their thoughts, record a funny story that they don’t want to forget, etc.

The recordings can be played over the phone, downloaded into iTunes, emailed, and/or I can mail them a monthly CD with their recordings from the previous month.

In addition to the marketing I’m currently doing, I’m thinking about marketing to the visually impaired/blind. I don’t know anyone who’s visually impaired, and I have a few questions maybe someone can help me with.

  1. Is this a service that would have any appeal, or generally do visually impaired people have other ways of keeping a journal (e.g. recording into a digital recorder or their PC). The differentator with this product is that you can use any phone, but would that be attractive to the visually impaired?

  2. People can play the recordings using iTunes. Is iTunes “visually-impaired friendly”? Do blind people generally use iTunes?

  3. How can I tell how well my website functions with the special voice browsers. I know I have to fill in some of the Alt tags for the images that are on the pages. Is there some service that rates how friendly the site is to the visually impaired? Is their a free voice browser I can download so I can experience the site the same way a blind person would? FWIW I’d send people to this website

  4. Any thoughts on how to market to the visually impaired? Do I market to them or their caregivers? Are their any magazines or journals that the visually impaired or their caregivers read/hear?

Thanks in advance - my ignorance in this topic is pretty big.

I have no idea on much of this personally but will offer my thoughts. Take them for what they are worth and with a largish grain of salt. I am not visually impaired and it has been many years since I was involved with people who were (although once upon a time I was involved with the Hadley School for the Blind so am not totally devoid of experience with such issues…was a long time ago now though).

  1. I have no idea what appeal this would have to the visually impaired but I have no doubt they have many options for keeping their own journals. I personally cannot see why this option would be particularly appealing to them unless they wanted to share their thoughts with others (e.g. a Blog).

  2. No idea. I have not seen any features that seem particulatly friendly to blind people in I-Tunes but perhaps they are there…or not. Dunno.

  3. No clue at all.

  4. Marketing to them is like marketing to anyone else. Figure out where people such as this tend to hang (whatever media that takes) and go there and try to engage them. You also may consider attempts to market to family and friends of people that have visual impairments. They may chit-chat with those they know and clue them in. Beyond that marketing is marketing. Find your audience and engage them.

There are large foundations for the blind in San Francisco, New York and other cities all called something like “Lighthouse for the Blind”.

Most have a “tech center”, at least SF and NY do. Try to contact the tech center at these foundations to discuss your product idea and products.

If you google “Lighthouse for the Blind” you will get links. You’ll also see how a web site for the visually impaired should be built. Visually impaired folks often use screen reading software (JAWS is the one that most use I believe) and the foundation web sites are built to be very screen-reader friendly.