Lesson 2: How People with Disabilities Access the Web
One of the groups most dependent on standard-based web design is people with disabilities. Consider the following examples:
- If a web page includes visual content (graphic images), a person
who is blind can't see them. These individuals might access the computer's
output using synthesized text-to-speech technology known as a "screen
reader", or they might use a small Braille output device. Graphics
must be accompanied (in the code behind-the-scenes) with alternate text
that describes the content of the graphics for anyone who is unable to see
- If a web page includes audio content, a person who is deaf or hard of hearing won't be able to hear it. This content must also be provided as text, such as in a transcript. If the site includes a multimedia file, that file should be closed captioned so that a visible text track, synchronized with the video, can be turned on by the user.
- If a web page has buttons, controls, menus, form fields, etc., that require a user to click on them with a mouse, users with physical disabilities who are unable to operate a mouse will be unable to access these controls. All controls should be operable with a keyboard as well.
At the completion of this exercise:
- you will have developed a basic understanding of the variety of methods and technologies used by people with disabilities in accessing computers and the web.
- you will have experienced some of the common barriers people with disabilities face with inaccessible web content.
- Videos: View and discuss the following videos, which
provide examples of how people with disabilities access computers and
other technologies, and the problems they may encounter when
trying to access web content.
- Simulation Visit and evaluate several websites and discuss whether some users might have difficulty accessing these sites. Ask your instructor for the URLs of websites that make particularly good examples of either accessible or inaccessible design.
Explore ways of determing whether sites are inaccessible. Here are some examples:
- Turn off graphics in your browser to perceive each page as a blind user might encounter it.
- If you have access to a screen reader application, turn off the
monitor and try accessing websites audibly (some operating systems come equipped with free screen readers, such as Microsoft Narrator in Windows).
- Try accessing a page without using your mouse (if you can't resist, disconnect your mouse!)
- Try accessing a multimedia presentation with the sound turned down.
- Discuss with your instructor what you learned about how the web is
experienced by people with disabilities.
Great! Proceed to the next lesson.
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