Are People with Vision Loss Being Shut out of the Blogosphere?
The American Foundation for the Blind Evaluates Blogging
New York (May 12, 2005)—From Business Week to The New York Times, everyone's talking about blogging—the online pastime is impacting both politics and journalism, and providing people with a new way to speak out and connect. But how accessible is this world to blind and low vision computer users? According to a recent review by the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), becoming a blogger can be a frustrating task for people with vision loss.
"What we found through our evaluation is that the world of blogging is out of reach for many blind and low vision computer users," said Jay Leventhal, editor of AccessWorld®, AFB's online technology magazine. "With 40,000 new blogs cropping up each day and some nine million web logs already in existence, blogging is revolutionizing the way we share and communicate information, which is why AFB wants to ensure that blogs are accessible to everyone."
Using JAWS for Windows screen reader and an Alva Satellite braille display - two popular assistive technology products that provide access to information on a computer screen - AFB evaluated the accessibility of two blogging services: Blogger and Bloglines and four popular blogs: Hacking Netflix, Fastlane General Motors Blog, Micropersuasion, and Blogspotting - Business Week Online. What AFB found is that some sites make it difficult to independently create your own blog if you're a blind user - though it is possible to read and comment on others' blogs.
The good news is that making a web page or web log accessible is easy. With a few simple changes in web page design—like labeling graphics and images with descriptive alt text—it is possible to make the world of blogging user-friendly to the millions of blind and visually impaired computer users worldwide.
"Freely disseminating and accessing information is what blogging is all about," added Leventhal. "I imagine most blogging services will want to do all they can to ensure their sites are accessible."