A framework for building web sites that are friendly to visually impaired

Dileepa Jayathilake

Proper access to World Wide Web has emerged as an essential need for all kinds of groups in society. There is no apparent alternative to it in most disciplines where it is highly involved. Therefore it is crucial to make the World Wide Web accessible for every person regardless of his or her capabilities, social status, purchasing power, etc. One potential group that can be discriminated with regards to web accessibility is visually impaired because of the strong tendency of web sites and applications towards visual consumption. In recent years various bodies have been emphasizing the need for making web friendlier to visually impaired people, which resulted in generating a significant pressure on web content providers. On one side, laws are being imposed that strengthen visually impaired people to prompt legal action against organizations that ignore them. On the other hand social value systems have changed so that the value of a business can depend on the degree of support offered towards differently abled people.

The challenge in making web content more accessible for visually impaired have been attacked in different fronts. Major software platform providers have included lot of supportive features such as voice capabilities in their products. Web development agencies also have started paying attention on accessibility during the development process. This paper includes a study on different types of visual impairments and recommended means of addressing them. It also sheds light on guidelines for developing web sites and applications that are friendly to visually impaired. Output of the research also includes a framework and a convenience tool that can be immensely useful during implementation of accessible web sites and applications.

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