Blind people do not use the internet. How could they, they cannot see the screen.
It started with a conversation
I was having a chat with a very nice lady last week. We had met at an online networking event and were having a follow-up chat over Zoom. She had been struck by some of the things I had been saying and it had got her thinking.
She had previously been working as a health and safety officer for a company for 20 years, so she would have a much greater awareness than most people about the wellbeing of people and having an awareness of their needs. However, she genuinely did not think that blind people used the web.
"How could they? They cannot not see the screen"
That was unexpected
I must admit that I rarely am at a loss for words, but this was one of those occasions.
Please note, I am not mocking her or criticising her in any way. She was obviously a caring and compassionate person and genuinely wanted to know more about accessibility and websites.
I was very happy to explain some of the basics: how blind people could use a screen-reader that would describe audibly the website they were on, telling them the links to other pages that were available, explaining any images on there and so on. They could also have a keyboard that was easier for them to use.
She is not the first person I have spoken to who, despite having a good understanding of welfare and inclusivity in the real world, was not aware that the same rules apply on the Web.
This is nothing new
The guidelines regarding website accessibility for disabled people have been around since 1999.
Yes, that is correct. 22 years ago.
I have been passionate about promoting website accessibility for disabled people since we first started building accessible websites, back in 2006.
Frankly, it has been a pretty lonely road.
Since then, I have had the privilege of meeting many other like-minded individuals online and I want to take this opportunity to publicly say thank you to them. The road is not quite so lonely.
However, there is much work to do and much awareness to be raised!
Would you like to find out more about this?
I run a free monthly workshop on website accessibility and, if you would like to find out more about this, please come along.
If you are interested in having an accessibility audit of your website, why not book yourself in for a chat?