Website Accessibility for Blind and
Visually Impaired Users

Not all web users can see the screen visually -- they must use alternative forms of output, the most common of which is synthetic speech. When designing web pages, please be mindful of this important segment of your audience.

Obviously, excessive use of images is not user-friendly to this audience, and slows down file transfers as well. (This can make any visitor impatient and less likely to visit or linger at your site.) When you do use images, make sure you include an alternative representation (ie a text description) accessible to text-only browsers. This is important for ALL users, since many if not most sighted people often switch off automatic image loading in their browsers to speed things up. Websites that use images (without alternative text representation) as menu choices, for example, are unintelligible in this mode.

Some webmasters use artistic pastel shaded "wallpaper design" backgrounds; however the resulting low contrast print makes the words hard to see for anyone, especially for those of us whose vision is not what it used to be.

For more comprehensive information on how you can make your own web site as accessible as possible for ALL users including those who view the screen through speech or braille, see the Web Access Resource Center.

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If you have comments or suggestions, email author John Brabyn