The internet has opened up a world of possibilities for people with disabilities, including blind people. With the help of assistive technology, blind people can access the same information and services as sighted people. But how do blind people use the internet? What are the challenges they face? And what are the resources that are available to help them?
How blind people use the internet?
Blind people use the internet in a variety of ways. They may use it to:
• Stay connected with friends and family. Blind people can use social media, email, and video chat to stay in touch with loved ones. They can also use text-based messaging apps, such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, to communicate with friends and family.
• Access information and news. Blind people can use the internet to read news articles, research topics, and learn new things. They can use screen readers to read text on websites and apps, and they can use braille displays to read text in braille.
• Shop and bank online. Blind people can use the internet to shop for groceries, clothes, and other items. They can also use it to pay bills and bank online. Many websites and apps now offer accessible features that make it easier for blind people to use them.
• Entertainment. Blind people can use the internet to watch movies with audio description, listen to music with lyrics, or play games that are designed for blind users. There are also a number of websites and apps that offer audio books and podcasts that blind people can enjoy.
challenges of browsing the internet
While the internet has made it possible for blind people to access a wide range of information and services, there are still challenges that they face. Some of these challenges include:
• Lack of accessible websites. Not all websites are accessible to blind users. This means that blind people may not be able to use them, or they may have to use workarounds to access the information they need. There are a number of accessibility guidelines and standards that can help web developers and designers create accessible websites.
• Difficulties navigating websites. Blind people often have difficulty navigating websites, especially if they are not designed with accessibility in mind. This can make it difficult to find the information they need or to complete tasks. There are a number of assistive technologies that can help blind people navigate websites, such as screen readers and keyboard navigation tools.
• Problems with images and videos. Images and videos can be a challenge for blind users, as they cannot see them. This means that they may miss out on important information or be unable to complete tasks that require them to interact with images or videos. There are a number of ways to make images and videos more accessible to blind users, such as providing alt text for images and transcripts for videos.
• Lack of information about accessibility features. Not all websites provide information about their accessibility features. This can make it difficult for blind users to know if a website is accessible or how to use it. There are a number of resources available that can help blind users find accessible websites, such as the WebAIM WAVE Accessibility Scanner.
The importance of accessible web design
Accessible web design is the practice of designing websites that can be used by people with disabilities, including blind people. Accessible websites use features such as alt text for images, keyboard navigation, and screen reader compatibility. These features make it possible for blind users to access the information and features of a website, just like sighted users.
Tools and Technologies for Blind Internet Users
There are various tools and technologies available to assist blind people in utilizing the internet. These can be used on both mobile and desktop or laptop devices:
- Screen readers:
• JAWS (Job Access With Speech)
• NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Access) for Windows
• VoiceOver for Mac, iPhone, and iPad
• TalkBack for Android
• Orca An open-source screen reader and magnifier for Linux-based systems.
2. Braille displays: These devices provide tactile feedback by converting on-screen text into braille, allowing blind users to read the content through touch.
3. Voice-to-text software:
• Dragon NaturallySpeaking: This software allows users to dictate their speech, which is then converted into text.
• Google Docs Voice Typing: This feature is built into Google Docs and allows you to dictate text into a document. It supports real-time transcription, word prediction, command recognition, and multi-language support.
• Apple Dictation: This feature is built into macOS and iOS devices and allows you to dictate text into any application. It supports real-time transcription, word prediction, and command recognition.
• Microsoft Word Voice Typing: This feature is built into Microsoft Word and allows you to dictate text into a document. It supports real-time transcription, word prediction, and command recognition.
4. Accessible websites and platforms:
• Social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube have implemented accessibility features to ensure blind users can navigate and interact with content.
• Websites like BBC prioritize accessibility, making their content more accessible to blind individuals.
By utilizing these tools and accessing accessible websites and platforms, blind people can enhance their internet experience and access information, communicate, and participate in online activities more effectively.
The internet has made it possible for blind people to access a wide range of information and services. Through various assistive technologies such as screen readers, braille displays, and voice-to-text software, blind individuals can navigate websites, communicate, shop, and engage in entertainment just like their sighted counterparts. However, challenges such as inaccessible websites, difficulties with navigation, and limitations with images and videos still persist. It is crucial for web developers and designers to prioritize accessible web design, ensuring that blind users can fully participate in the online world.