Pinch to Zoom. It’s probably not a term you’re familiar with. However, if you’ve suffered from nystagmus, optic neuritis or blurred vision due to your MS it’s definitely been a problem.

In the rush to have responsive websites that answer the mass-market of smart phones and mobile devices like iPads, companies have rushed to make their websites mobile responsive.

In the process, they’ve ignored the visually impaired. In one absolute grand irony, the Multiple Sclerosis Society rebranded their website and eliminated pinch to zoom. This is an absolute vital function for people who might be visually impaired like people with MS. The more I think about it the more upset I get. It’s ironic that the MS Society did not even consider this. Don’t they have someone there who has this disease? That suffers from optic neuritis?

I did tons of research on this topic and it’s ironic that I’m writing a blog post on it since I have nystagmus and I’m technically legally blind. I’m the person who actually has to write this because no one has really written about it.

What is pinch to zoom? In the easiest non-technical terms it’s your ability to make browser or Windows bigger on your mobile device by touching the screen with your thumb and forefinger her and pinching it wider. It is a function I use every day on my iPad. It’s virtually impossible to use my laptop computer because with my optic neuritis, I need to hold the screen about 8 to 10 inches from my eyes depending on the day.

I guarantee that if you use an iPad or other mobile device you’ve used Pinch to Zoom without realizing it.

Before MS affected my life I was a hand on executive at a small software company. I was responsible for managing the principal product and its development. This then, that I was concerned about user interface development and focus exclusively on it daily. I’d spend countless hours on user interface design of web-based software. I was constantly asking the question: is this usable? Bye everyone? What are the limitations of what we’ve just developed?

Another irony. Ultimately I am the right person to talk about Pinch to Zoom because I have technical expertise in user interface design.

Where better than the chronic illness community to raise this issue? Unfortunately, it’s up to the chronic illness communities to raise this issue with web developers.

My husband is a WordPress web developer and uses simple plugin on all of his websites to enable Pinch to Zoom and accommodate the visually impaired or frankly anyone getting a little bit older and needing larger print.

How have other companies don’t with this? Many news outlets for instance are for a choice of type size when you read an article this is a nice solution, however it doesn’t totally solve the problem. What if a person needs tight that is larger than the largest size you have available? It’s also not available on every website.

So what is the cost to businesses to make their websites accessible with Pinch to Zoom? A few minutes and a few lines of simple code or a plug-in. So why don’t they do it? They likely don’t know about it.

It is your job as a consumer of websites and technology to bring it to their attention and let them know that they may likely be shutting out a large portion of the population and the visually impaired. There are officially 78 million baby boomers. That is 78 million people who very likely are or will become farsighted and need larger type. It’s inevitable with age. Very likely most people 45+ have some level of farsightedness and may need to start adjusting the type size.

My husband’s clock just ticked to 45 not too long ago. He swears they’re making type smaller on medicine bottles and in magazines. They’re not. Everyone eventually becomes farsighted to some degree.

I have to make the type larger for pinch to zoom because of my optic neuritis. What about the millions of other consumers that web developers are ignoring?

What can you do? Plenty!

1. Let them know about. When you encounter a website that doesn’t allow pinch to zoom, navigate over to that “Contact Us” button and tell them to enable pinch to zoom. Reference this article for support. I’ve laid out some good technical arguments.

2. Use the app version of the website. Many businesses have an app version and technology is evolving so that in a few years all websites will be apps. Apps frequently, though not always have a larger type inherently.

3. Social media always works. You can use the #pinch2zoomMS on Twitter. Share this article on Facebook tag it #Pinch2zoomMS. Share this information in your MS groups and tell them you heard it on MSPals!

4. Vote with your wallet. If you communicated to web developers that their website doesn’t use pinch to zoom, and they don’t fix it, shop elsewhere.

If you haven’t had optic neuritis yet, you are very lucky. Many of your fellow pals are not so lucky.

Guess where my first call is to tomorrow? Yes. The MS Society.

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