the_newsbeagle writes "Chieko Asakawa went blind at age 14, learned to program mainframe computers by sense of touch, and has spent her 27 years at IBM-Tokyo bringing personal computing and the Internet to the blind. From the article: 'By 1997 she had developed a plug-in that worked with the Netscape browser, mapping Web navigation commands to the computer keyboard's number pad and using text-to-speech technology to read out content. Computer stores around the world sold IBM's Home Page Reader, and Asakawa says its effect on the blind community was immediate, electric, and sometimes touching. ... Other browsers for the blind followed IBM's groundbreaking efforts, and Asakawa moved on to addressing a deeper problem: the fact that designers were unintentionally creating inaccessible websites. She and her team wrote a program called aDesigner ... to allow designers to experience a site as blind users do and to suggest ways to improve navigation for audio browsers.'"