Blind Online: Considering Visually Impaired Internet Users

Consideration of visually impaired internet users is an important factor in web design. Leaps in text-to-speech technology, apps and even legislation have expanded the internet horizon for the visually impaired in recent years. Navigation and access is easier than ever. This includes availability of information for sighted people to reach an understanding of how the blind “see” the internet.

Reaching understanding

For sighted people, it may seem an impossible task to browse the internet without sight. How do you navigate from page to page? How do you find interesting random links in a sidebar? The Blind Film Critic, Tommy Edison, also hosts a channel on YouTube where he answers questions about his experience of being blind. The video below shows how he uses his laptop.

This text-to-speech software and Windows’ equivalent is Microsoft Narrator can be used in conjunction with a traditional browser to navigate online. This is where good web design comes into play.

Line by Line

“Screen reading software presents the webpage as a set of lines and links, and possibly other things—frames and headers, if the software employs that.” says Paul Schroeder, Vice President of Programs and Programs and Policy for the American Foundation for the Blind in an article by Gizmodo.

Sites that are overcrowded (such as Amazon), or that change their layout often (such as Facebook) are often easier to access by smartphone or tablet. Apps are more likely to be less cluttered and less subject to design change.

Also of interest is how text is coded. In the world of text-to-speech, there is a huge difference between the delivery of < I > (italics) and < EM> (emphasis).

Along with the point that alt text isn’t just for jokes, the whole article is full of useful details to bear in main when designing and developing a website for visually impaired internet users.

Follow the link below for the full article.

Giz Explains: How Blind People See the Internet

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