Hong Kong Blind Union says 2,000 kept out of the loop over city’s infected tally, mask availability and other important updates
Five of the 10 Chinese-language media reviewed fell short in areas such as font size and screen display Victor Ting
Published: Apr, 2020
Visually impaired people in Hong Kong are struggling to get hold of crucial information about the coronavirus because half of the city’s major Chinese-language news organisations do not have accessible smartphone apps, a local disability group has said.
With more than 2.9 million people infected worldwide, including 1,037 locally, an investigation by Hong Kong Blind Union revealed Covid-19’s “disproportionate” impact on the 2,000 visually challenged residents the non-governmental organisation represents.
The group reviewed the mobile applications of 10 news corporations in the city between April 6 and April 21, ranking their accessibility on a scale from zero to two across seven metrics, including whether apps allowed users to change the font size or the display screen’s colour contrast.
Five of those surveyed received a score below one and were judged inaccessible by the NGO, with TVB News at the bottom of the pile with 0.67 marks.
RTHK News topped the chart by scoring full marks in all seven categories, followed by the government’s Information Services Department’s app with 1.57 marks and Commercial Radio with 1.43.
Jason Ho Ka-leung, vice-president of the union, said the deficiencies of the news apps had been exposed by the epidemic.
“Like other people, the visually impaired also care about the news, such as confirmed infections and where to purchase key protective items such as masks and sanitation products,” he said.
“The poor design of some news apps has hindered the visually impaired’s ability to receive important information.”
Ho explained that visually disabled people often required enlarged text or an audio function.
“Others may think we can still rely on radio or television for the information, but actually detailed information about the epidemic is usually in text,” he said.