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Friday, September 2, 2011

The World of Inaccessible Websites

As I begin the year with my students, the inaccessibility to websites for the blind hits me hard...once again.

Let's just talk about how inaccessible so many school sites are to our students and it seems they should be leading the way.

Many times the sites are so inaccessible and loaded with images instead of actual text. If you have talking software you can quickly see that many words on the page are actually a picture of text and not actual text itself, so there is no way for a blind person to access it with the talking software.

OK, let's go a couple more steps. Worse, teachers assign students to access the website to download lessons---PDF lessons that once again are images of text, not text itself. Worse, teachers require students to do online work on a site that is completely inaccessible.

So back to my students and and school websites. We have to use a mouse to click where we are going--this takes a sighted person--that independence goal goes down the drain. Then we bookmark the page the student needs to be on, so all she has to do is go to her favorites and pull it up quickly. Fortunately, there are enough tricks in the talking software to get her where she needs to go. But if you don't have the knowledge on the talking software, the students are out of luck.

What makes this shocking is it is very easy to make an accessible site. GMAIL is a perfect example. It offers basic HTML or standard. My students can actually do both as they become advanced in their talking software skills, but I always start them out with basic HTML. Simple text all over the page with easy commands to get you to where you are going.

Website designers need to take note and we need to let them know. There is a great lack of knowledge out there--time to teach them too.

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