Blindness changes the way users interact with technology in a very profound way. While we often assume blind people are either born with the condition or lose vision at a young age, this isn’t always true. For many people, blindness occurs later in life, making it difficult to interact with the modern digital world. All this said, helping the blind is crucial to staying legally compliant and helping our fellow citizens. This blog provides tips and insights to achieve just that.
Who Is Impacted by Blindness?
Visual deterioration and even loss are common side effects of aging. People who never needed glasses can become partially blind and need corrective lenses as they age. While this loss in visual acuity will not always lead to blindness, on occasion, it can. One of the more common diseases, macular degeneration, robs older adults of their eyesight.
According to the National Eye Institute, AMD alone doesn’t cause total blindness. But it can disrupt driving, reading, writing, cooking, simple home improvement tasks, and more. For example, losing the ability to read can create a massive barrier between a blind person and the content they need to understand.
Various types of hereditary color blindness can also hinder everyday activities, including accessing and using websites. So what exactly do colorblind people see? Here’s a good example: people with normal vision see the disparity between two colored pants. Color-blind people may see them as the same color (e.g., blue).
Luckily, most people won’t go through such a dramatic and catastrophic life event. However, some people will lose their vision at some point, even if it’s only temporary. Blindness takes away one of the senses people rely on most when using digital devices.
Take out your phone and close your eyes. Then, try unlocking it and opening your email. Did you accurately complete those two simple steps, or did you end up with a locked phone or open another application? Even if you were successful, consider that you’ve memorized where the email icon is on your phone. Therefore, it would not go so smoothly if you tried to open an app.
Accessible Technology for Blind People
Whether the user trying to access a website was born blind or lost their eyesight later, they will still have a lot of challenges to overcome when using technology. Most devices are easy for sighted people to use. However, some modifications provide help for blind people and make it a bit simpler for them to navigate modern technology.
Some useful accessibility options are programs like text-to-speech that will read what’s on a computer screen back to the user. These applications allow users to have the content of a website read to them without needing to have another person present.
Blind users who read braille can also read online text using output displays. These tools interpret the website text into braille and transmit it to the user in small chunks. The user can then refresh their display and have it translate the next section of text. Websites need to have clear, logically written text, so users translating it into braille can easily understand it.
Your Site Can Be Easier for People That Are Blind
Blind people will benefit significantly from modifications to your site that make the text easier for accessibility accommodations to interpret. For example, text-to-speech programs read information from websites in the order it appears. Therefore, creating a logical content flow and simple navigation structure will help users understand the text when it’s read. Text-to-speech keyboard navigation is another frequently used modification.
Blind users are likely unable to use a computer mouse or trackpad to navigate web pages. Instead, they will use keyboards to navigate web pages using predetermined keystrokes. Unfortunately, if the text-to-speech feature reads non-logical content, it’s much harder for blind people to use keyboard navigation. Just a note – the UserWay widget can help users with keyboard navigation. Installing it will give your users a dashboard filled with accessibility options at their disposal.
Additionally, it is essential to include details like simple text descriptions of images on your web page (known as alt text). Without this text, blind users will be unaware that an image appears on the page because the program will have nothing to read. Simple details like this are often easy to overlook. However, including them will be incredibly helpful to users who need assistance using the internet.
Helping the Blind Means Modifying Your Website
If you haven’t heard about WCAG 2.0 guidelines yet, then visit the overview post to learn about these critical accessibility rules. WCAG 2.0 ensures that everyone can interact with websites and that website content is accessible and adaptable. In addition, some guidelines help websites that are optimizing their site for blind users.
You should be aware that these rules are required. You could expose your business to lawsuits from users who can’t access your content if you don’t comply with WCAG 2.0. These costly lawsuits are increasing rapidly as more websites are getting slammed for not being accessible to disabled users. Companies of all sizes are finding themselves on the defensive as they try to refute claims that their websites violate WCAG 2.0. Ensuring your website follows the rules and is accessible to the blind community will help to prevent users from filing a lawsuit against your company.
5 Tips To Help People That Are Blind Use Your site
You can quickly integrate these tips to help accommodate blind people and partially blind people.
1. Keyboard Usability
Most blind people can use a mouse or trackpad. The problem is they can’t detect where these devices move or point. The good news? You can provide keyboard navigation that makes it easy for them to use and read your website content.
2. Communication Hierarchy
Numerous screen readers display headings, subheadings, and additional content indicators on web pages. This page structure conveys the importance of all content blocks cornering the website’s overall message. It also helps people using screen readers and keyboard navigation skip to different areas on a web page. Use the correct tags (e.g., <h1> for titles).
3. Provide ARIA Labels
They apply detailed text descriptions for web elements like hyperlinks. This is especially important when there are no other visible descriptions of these elements on a webpage.
4. Feedback for Screen Reader Users
People using screen readers require instant feedback upon completing a command like filling out forms. Your site must have features that provide feedback these users can clearly hear and understand.
5. Video Descriptions
Blind people can listen to website videos but may still miss crucial visual information. An easy-to-understand video description fills in the content gaps for the visually impaired.
Accommodate Blind People with UserWay
UserWay makes superior AI products for blind people and those with all other disabilities. That’s because UserWay believes all people should have fair and equal access to the web and digital devices. Find out how the UserWay widget increases digital accessibility and helps you reach ADA compliance today.
Answers to Common FAQs
How Does Digital Accessibility Relate to Blind People?
Digital accessibility empowers people with disabilities to see, comprehend, use, access, and participate in the digital world. It’s not only the law according to the ADA, but it should also be a moral imperative for all website owners to accommodate this crucial user base.
Are Websites Legally Required to Accommodate Blind People?
As stated above, The ADA mandates that most businesses accommodate people with disabilities. Meeting these guidelines means providing accessible content for various disorders using assistive technology tools.
Is There Technology That Enables Blind People to Browse the Web?
Yes, there are assistive technology tools blind people use to easily browse websites, use email, populate forms, and more. This supports people who rely on keyboards and those that navigate using a mouse.