Accessibility and Assistive Technology

In March I spent several days at the SXSW trade show promoting accessible web design in the Knowbility booth and gained new perspectives about building websites for accessibility and my own site, Modern Health Talk. While I’ve written many articles here about universal design and products built for various disabilities, actually using that advice myself is a different matter, so it was enlightening to hear how a blind person navigates this site with a screen reader that speaks the written words. I also learned to include text descriptions of photos and images, but sometimes there’s so much content that doing so is difficult, such as with an infographic. And I learned that watching movies & videos can be a challenge for the blind, especially when there’s no dialog. That’s why I was happy to learn that Regal Entertainment Group announced that it’s starting to support special goggles for vision or hearing impaired patrons to they can see captioning that doesn’t display on the big screen or hear video descriptions of scenes with no voice.

The two videos below focus on website design from the perspective of students but apply equally to older adults. You’ll see examples from students with impaired hearing, sight or mobility, but as you watch, think about that blind or deaf person would watching these videos. There’s no captioning. There’s no video description. So close your eyes, or turn off the sound and see what you miss. Then try using your PC without a keyboard or mouse. Do you have speech recognition or text-to-speech software? Is it easy to use in all applications and on all webpages? That’s the challenge of designing accessible websites, products and homes.

Each state posts information about available resources online, and you can find a list of them at Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs (ATAP).

The next video is obviously aimed at companies and individuals designing website.

Please reply in the comments section below to share your own perspectives, let me know what frustrates you about Modern Health Talk, and give me ideas of how I improve the site for you.

Thanks, Wayne Caswell, editor

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