Op Ed Writer Bob Branco – Website Accessibility Issues

Although there has been tremendous progress in making the internet accessible for blind people, there are several things that we, as blind computer users, can’t do. I know several blind individuals who use Craig’s List, Face Book, and other related sites in order to network. The one problem we have is that we can’t see the authentication verification code that pops up on the monitor when we log out. As you probably know, this authentication verification code, a random list of letters and numbers that are sometimes viewed upside down, is designed to prevent hackers from remembering it, and that’s why it changes with every attempt to log out.

The problem is that a blind person can’t verify it because the speech software can’t translate it. A sighted person has to be on hand at all times to dictate every new authentication verification code that comes up on the monitor in order for a blind person to verify it. Under these circumstances, how do the blind manage to maneuver through these sites where you have to post information by logging in and out? I would like to be able to post ads on Craig’s List without having a sighted person come here every time I log out, just so that he can read an authentication verification code that changes on the fly and is not understood by speech software. Do any of you have any solutions, and if you are a blind user, how do you log out?

Generally speaking, there have been attempts made by some web site designers to include fewer graphics on their sites, making it a lot easier for the blind user to read them. More often than not, speech software has difficulty reading a web site if it has too many pictures on it. I know that in the world of vision, people like to look at the pretty designs on a web site, because it looks attractive. No matter how nice the site looks, the design doesn’t help the blind. Most, if not all, speech programs stop reading when they come across a picture. If the picture is too large, Jaws will be interrupted while reading the important material.

I don’t think that legislation is necessary, because most of us don’t like the government telling private industry what to do, so I feel we should just have more faith that web site designers will cut back on all the graphics in order for everyone to read what’s on the site.


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