Visually impaired and websites: how to improve websites to make it accessible for visually impaired

The modern IT society is based on Internet access, and many corporations, organizations and persons take advantage of the increased accessibility and flexibility that the Internet provides for products, services and information. This can also cause problems for the visually impaired since they cannot always access and use all websites, because of that their aiding devices cannot always interpret all the contents of the website, or that they freeze or sometimes even crash.

The purpose of this study is therefore to find out how websites should be designed so that they function as well as possible with the aiding devices of the visually impaired, as well as how to make websites as accessible as possible for the visually impaired.

By comparing the result of a case study with existing theory, it was concluded that the existing standards and guidelines should be followed to make websites as accessible and user friendly as possible for the visually impaired. One of the many important things regarding accessibility for the visually impaired is the importance of providing ALT texts to images and links, to allow the aiding devices to interpret these. Because it is very common to forget to provide ALT texts on websites today.

It is also important to follow the accessibility standards and guidelines that are available for both Flash animations and PDF documents. Modern aiding devices can interpret Flash animations if they follow these standards and guidelines, but most of the aiding devices can still not interpret Flash at all. The aiding devices can also interpret PDF documents if these are made correctly, which, sadly, the often are not.

To find a solution for all these problems, and many more, the authors have concluded a number of good advice and requirements based on the experience of visually impaired persons, as well as giving some advice on how to increase accessibility in websites.
Source: Luleå University of Technology
Authors: Veronica Bergman, Robert Nygren

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