This content was published: October 29, 2018. Phone numbers, email addresses, and other information may have changed.
How individuals with visual disabilities read online content
Many times you might be required to implement accessible and/or usable online content. Have you wondered why? Why is it important to use headings? Why do images need Alt text? Why do links need to be descriptive? Why tables need column and row headers? Etc.
First, let’s find out how a blind person navigates the internet. Mario Eiland is an assistive technology specialist who is blind and has used screen readers for over 30 years. He describes that navigating online is like the following audio.
People who are blind tend to face many barriers with online content, given the visual nature of the Web. They will often use a screen reader to access their computer or device and may use a refreshable Braille display in conjunction with the screen reader to convert text to Braille.
Common barriers for blind people include:
- Visual content that has no alternative text
- Elements that cannot be controlled with a keyboard
- Overly complex or excessive amounts of unstructured content
- Inability to navigate within a page of content
- Inconsistent navigation
- Time limits (insufficient time to complete tasks)
- Unexpected automated activity (e.g., redirect when an element receives focus)
- Multimedia without audio description
In order to emphasize the importance of building accessible online content, we created a video series demonstrating the differences between an inaccessible versus accessible content. When elements, such as headings, links, lists, and tables are properly implemented, media such as, images, videos, math, and scanned PDF can be made accessible.
I hope you will find the videos helpful and bridge the accessibility gap of online learning.