|An Eye on the World|
This may seem like an unusual topic, coming from someone with fairly normal sight, but it’s one that’s become critically important to me. I’ve discovered I’m missing an entire world of new connections if I don’t take this into consideration.
Before last year I’d never considered that some blogs and websites were easier than others for the visually impaired to navigate. At that time I was blessed by an introduction to an amazing young woman (and talented blogger in her own right). The main differences between Jamie Britt and I were her sweet spirit and gentle wisdom...and the fact that she’s blind.
Jamie introduced me to the software she uses to navigate the world accessed through her computer. And I discovered that access is filled with hidden obstacles and obstructions that would have derailed me within moments. Her endurance and perseverance challenged me to reevaluate all the tools I used on my blog. I researched and investigated every stumbling block to see if it was a necessary obstacle or something I could remove.
What I found may surprise you, it certainly did me. For one, you don’t have to be blind to be visually impaired. As our society ages, there are many of us who don’t see as well as we used to and a lot of the measures we take to avoid spammers also block access to others. There’s also a significant section of our population who struggle with color blindness to some degree or another. All of these people deserve equal access.
Here are ways your site can facilitate that access:
|Use bright, high-contrast colors whenever possible|
- Keep the color scheme simple. Black and white are the easiest to navigate, but even that choice can cause eye strain for those without impairment. The idea is to keep your color choices strong, with good contrast so those who struggle can tell the difference between different sections. For example, the difference between regular text and a hyperlink within a post (a hyperlink is a clickable link that takes you to another webpage). The more dramatically different you can make each area the more clarity your blog will have.
- special note: those with color blindness, also called color vision confusion frequently cannot differentiate between red and green, although yellow/blue confusion can also be an issue. Avoid these color combinations at all cost to avoid unnecessary confusion.
- Labels make life easier. Labels or captions are important for every image. These should include an accurate description of the image. Also, when posting a list of websites, or anything else on the sidebar, be sure to label it. You should never rely on colors alone to convey information.
- Use headers and introduction sentences for paragraphs. Many readers used by the visually impaired have a scanning option. Users can listen to the header and first sentence and discover whether or not the paragraph is relevant to their search.
- Make link destinations clear within the text. For example, to access a post on hyperlinks, click here. This makes good sense at any time because hyperlinks are also searchable by search engines and can help raise your SEO (search engine optimization) for your blog.
|Font size is an important consideration for blogs|
- Check your font size. In Blogger you can set your default font sizes for your posts in the template window. But most of the main blogging platforms such as Typepad and WordPress allow you to change your font size from the posting window. You can’t set pixel size but you do have the options of smallest, small, normal, large and largest. Make sure your blog post can be read from at least three feet away in normal light.
- Skip the Word Verification for comments when possible. Depending on your platform this may not be an option, but I encourage you to use one where you do NOT have to use this. A lot of people have the incorrect assumption that this tool will stop spammers from posting horrible stuff in your comment section. In truth, if you use one of the big three platforms (Blogger, WordPress, Typepad) their spam detection software is more than adequate for this task.
The Internet is evolving into a complex community that’s breaking down walls. I believe it’s important to make certain I’m not erecting barriers in my part of the neighborhood.
What experience have you had in accessing certain sites? How have you made your site more user friendly?
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