Thursday, February 09, 2006

Internet Accessibility for Sensory Deprived

  • Sensory deprived include vision impaired, blind, hearing impaired and deaf
  • Affects workplace, education, government services

  • Barriers are a form of discrimination

  • Websites are graphic user interfaces (GUI), that we usually navigate visually
    and where pictures represent information

  • Visually impaired users employ electronic screen readers to make images
    readable on the Web

    o Use alt tags

    o And long desc (word doc's or paragraphs)

    o No blinking

    o Use rollovers that can be stopped

    o Have format consistency

    o Be able to tab through page options

  • MEDIA POLICY implications:

    o Internet standards need to be updated

    o Access to government agency websites (Section 508) must be made for sensory

    o Private impact, such as legal fights by the ADA (under the laws of "places
    of public accommodation"), for example SouthWest airline (kiosks not
    considered places of accommodation in court) and AOL (settled out of court)

*Need Bruce's handout!

1 comment:

brucelundeen said...

here's my notes -
There are several actions that Website owners and developers can take to promote internet accessibility for the visually impaired. Those of us without those responsibilities can apply pressure to have these simple accommodations in place. At the very least taking a critical look at a given web site and supplying ALT and LONGDESC text descriptions of non-text components that supply information through visual or auditory means is essential. (However – it is OK to not supply descriptions for material that does not increase the value of understanding), Designing any table-based information in a linear fashion with row and column headings will facilitate translation by electronic screen readers. If you can do more –comply with the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or the Section 508 federal standards. Though the law mandates only federal agencies comply with 508 standards, voluntary compliance with 508 would be an excellent step. Testing sites with users who have sight and sound impairments also yields good information for improvements.

There are many resources available through W3C ( and the federal government ( There are several free site checkers that will evaluate Section 508 compliance and offer recommendations for improvements, examples are Bobby(, Watchfire’s Webxact ( and Cynthia Says ( For site developers there are many for pay and some free software like captioning software Magpie 2 ( from the National Center for Accessible Media.
The following are the W3C Recommendations from Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 W3C Recommendation 5-May-1999 (currently WCAG 2.0 is being drafted as a revision)

1. Provide alternatives to auditory & visual content(ALT tags and descriptions)
2. Don’t rely on color alone
3. Use mark-up and style sheets and do so properly.
4. Clarify natural language usage.
5. Create tables that transform gracefully(allowing ESR’s to translate well)
6. Ensure that pages featuring new technologies transform gracefully
7. Ensure user control of time-sensitive content changes (relates to moving text and photo reactive epilepsy).
8. Ensure direct accessibility of embedded user interfaces.(W3C 1999)

thanks - Bruce