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How Blind People See the Internet

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posted on Aug, 27 2010 @ 10:10 AM
I wanted to post this in Breaking Alternative News so more people can be aware of this but due to some technical problem I am not able too, I hope more people can be aware of how Blind people surf the internet.

Have you ever thought how visually impaired people surf the web? Yes infact they do, I never thought about it untill I came across this article Giz Explains: How Blind People See the Internet which explains in detail how people with visual impairment surf the internet. They use traditional text to browser software such as Microsoft narrator/ Voiceover for Mac users.

Have you ever thought how much the visually impaired people miss out? The colors, the designs, the alignment of websites which makes it a fundamental part of browsing experience.

Think about that: The internet is anything but linear—website code is nested and cryptic, and often looks jumbled and out of order. (Right click, view source! Oh, yikes, maybe don't.) Websites often have multiple visual directions, or sometimes none at all. Yet audio screen readers—and Braille modules, which display about one line of text at a time—have to render them in sequence, somehow. And listeners have to make sense of it, to develop some kind of intuition for a site's layout and structure based on very, very small amounts of information, all out of order.

So what do they do? There are now advanced screen reading softwares as mentioned in the article which make it easy for them to surf the relevant data

Screen reading software, like VoiceOver in OS X or JAWS for Windows, is more clever than I've made it sound. It parses websites for headers, and sometimes navigational elements. It can give you a literal description of a page's layout—"three columns, two rows"—and its surprisingly unrobotic voices reflect all kinds of punctuation. It even differentiates between outwardly identical tags. My editor actually just sent us an email to this effect: Stop using < EM > and < I > tags interchangeably. One is for italics, and one is for emphasis. It's a difference you can't see, but it's a difference some will hear.

There are even braille keyboards

The article also raises a key issue. Many websites don't design themselves to be user friendly to handicaps. The only way to solve it is when

People who design websites have to be vigilant about including headers to divide large blocks of text, to include alternative text for images, and to use their tags properly

I think its awesome that technology has come so far. Helping people with disabilities is one of the amazing part of technology but more awareness has to be there while creating websites, blogs etc. Hopefully one day all the blind will see and all the deaf will hear and the mute will speak.

posted on Aug, 27 2010 @ 10:45 AM

I always find this kind of technology advancement to be fascinating!

It makes me think that with this new tech, how is it going to contribute to further advancement of the technologies?

All very cool.


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