Accessibility In Real Life

We talk a lot about accessibility when it comes to our websites and applications. We run our sites through the online testing validators, but I don’t think we do enough real-world testing with users who need to access our information.

I recently came across this video from Licia Prehn, who is legally blind.  She took the time to make a video to show how she browses Reddit. For her, accessibility means something different than screen-readers, high-contrast displays and more.  Have a look…

I found this video really compelling. The way Licia uses her browser is different than what the standard accessibility tools and research tells us. She does what she knows and works best for her. The question for us is how do we as web developers and designers make our sites as usable as possible for all users?

4 comments

  1. I teach art appreciation online and have had quite a few students with this type of very limited vision.

    One of the things I need to do for them is provide alternative images and alternative works of art – larger ones and ones that have higher-contrast in the details – to illustrate course concepts, so that the student can make them out. You can’t develop a concept about a two-dimensional visual phenomenon (like “pictorial space”) if you cannot see the image, and that can greatly limit students’ ability to profit from a course in art appreciation

    We also have problems getting screen readers to work with online quiz interfaces for example – the readers cannot cope well with the technology of the Learning Management System. This demonstration is helpful and I hope you and others will take the time to make other videos showing how you interact with technology so we can improve our delivery of content and services!

  2. Thank you for posting this. I work as a Community Manager for a R & D project that is working on ways to make digital images accessible to those with print disabilities. We are on the cusp of wonderful era where content that is born digital CAN also be born accessible. It takes some workflow adjustment on the part of content creators and publishers, but a lot is being done behind the scenes with standards and technology development to make this happen. As with so many initiatives designed to accommodate those with disabilities, I believe we will find that those accommodations are universally beneficial. For example, WGBH developed closed captioning for those with hearing impairments back in the 1980s — today, closed captioning is used by anyone who watches a TV in a public place like an airport or restaurant (or even at home when one person wants to sleep and another one wants to watch TV). Sidewalk cutouts were developed for those in wheelchairs, but of course anyone who has ever pushed a baby stroller is also grateful for them. Similarly, when digital images are made accessible, everyone will benefit from the ability to find images easily with a common search engine or to hear a description of a complex scientific image (there are images I can see perfectly well but don’t understand) or to print out a 3D rendering of an image. All these are perfectly possible, and when they become standard we will all benefit.

  3. It appears that the video has been “removed by the user.” I am disappointed because I was really looking forward to viewing it. We are working on the accessibility of our online courses and I love starting training sessions with a view from the end-user perspective. Hopefully she will put it back up! Thanks!

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