Web Accessibility For Visually Impaired People: Computer Science Paper Sample
Web Accessibility Standards
Web Accessibility For Visually Impaired People is a phenomena to be looked at.Throughout the history of the web, its designers have always focused on making it more easily accessible by everybody in the society. For this reason the web can be accessed by people in spite of their physical location, language, software, hardware, and metal capability. In such a state of performance, the web is considered accessible by people with a variety of abilities like hearing, sight, and the mental soundness (Shawn and Liam). In order to maintain accessibility threshold, the World Wide Web Consortium developed standards, which have to be maintained by web designers in order to serve everybody in the society regardless of their shortcomings. Even though the standards allow the freedom of choosing the layout and style to be applied on websites, the construction must allow easy access, with the help of text supported browsers. These guidelines are A, AA, and AAA.
As compared to the other levels, Level A is considered to be the primary level, which has to be attained while developing any website. Additionally, all sites with level have the capacity to perform using text based web browsers only. As a result, all disabled persons, regardless of their conditions (World Wide Web Consortium), can access such websites. In cases where media attributes like images, videos and sound are incorporated, this level ensures that there is a text substitute in cases where the browser does not support specified media format. Importantly, in cases where there are links, the designer must ensure that they are accessed through a text only browser.
Under this level, web designers are allowed to use HTML code together with style sheets like CSS, for the purpose of managing layout of pages, size, borders, and fonts among other features (World Wide Web Consortium). Oftentimes, browsers that are supported by text overlook these style sheets and allow them to be read as long as they are free from errors.
This is the final level, which has features and details that make web pages more easily accessible by people with disabilities in the society. It is essential to incorporate text between the links because speech readers may not notice the difference when two links are adjacent to each other. According to the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), navigation bars have to be utilized because they are essential in the navigation of websites. This is made possible by the support of markers, which indicate the position of the user on the web page (World Wide Web Consortium). Additionally, links logic order and forms are paramount because they allow the visitor to use the tab key to navigate downwards on the web page.
Tools Used By Blind Users to Access Web Content
For many years, people with impaired sight have had challenges in accessing printed materials. While most of them if not all relied on Braille, the system lacked immediacy as information is decoded after some time. The internet has also posed an array of shortcomings, as they are unable to access web information like other people in the society. The introduction of the screen magnifier has remained essential especially to people who are not completely blind (Alasdair, Gareth and Paul). The application allows the user to increase the size of the material as he or she navigates the web page. On the other hand, screen readers and self-voicing function are highly recommended in cases where the user has high degree of visual impairment. Screen readers are designed to read the web content on behalf of the user. In other words, this application interprets what is graphically represented in the user interface.
Conversely, self-voicing app offers help to the visually impaired through audio recorded speech. Unlike other applications, self-voicing ensures that the user hears what he or she expects. It therefore works on the assumption that the web designer understands what the reader is looking for (Alasdair, Gareth, and Paul). Importantly, screen readers and self-voicing applications do not work together. In most cases, the web user is forced to have the screen switched off in order to use the self-voicing function.
Web Design Guidelines for Visually Impaired People
There exists a wide range of guidelines for web designers, which have to be followed in order to help disabled people to access the web without much difficulty. It is worth noting that these guidelines conform to WAI guidelines together with the web standards outlined under Section 508 of web content standards (Dan and Sheryl). The three main classes of these standards are graphics and audio feature, general page design, and special feature. Under paper design, the designer is expected to maintain an easy layout of the page throughout the website. Additionally, simple backgrounds are highly recommended together with standard HTML. Above all, the design process ought to give enough information regarding the accessibility of the page to minimize challenges experienced by the disabled.
Despite the fact that people with impaired vision cannot view images and graphics, the graphical and studio feature, have manuals, which guide users. The mainly emphasize ALT/LONGDESC attributes on the web page. They also give description of images to enhance the accessibility of graphical content. It is important for web designers to describe videos adequately using captions or transcripts (Dan and Sheryl).
From this analysis, it is evident that disabled people experience challenges when accessing web pages. However, emerging technologies have helped to close these gaps. To achieve this web designers are expected to adhere to certain guidelines, which promote easy accessibility of these sites by disabled users.
Alasdair, King, Evans Gareth and Blenkhorn Paul. Blind people and the World Wide Web. 2004.12 April 2013
Dan, Comden and Burgstahler Sheryl. World Wide Access: Accessible Web Design. 13 April 2013
Shawn, Lawton, Henry and McGee Liam. Accessibility. 12 4 2013.
World Wide Web Consortium. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0. 5 May 1999. 12 April 2013