Accessibility Issues Using Screen Readers and Web 2.0

by Sharon Fuss

Accessibility to Web 2.0 is a problem. Apparently, as Web 2.0 developed little thought was given to accessibility issues. Now many people are not able to access, contribute, or use information on the web. For older people, and people with vision disabilities, vision loss creates a problem when designers don’t take into account how well the program works with existing AT, in this case screen readers, and do not take into consideration colors, backgrounds, fonts, and other design issues. Older people, and people with vision difficulties, can’t see what’s on the web page and existing readers mix images with text creating confusion for the listener.

There are numerous AT devices now on the market that can read aloud the screen display or even take the screen and provide a printed Braille version of the screen. Some even provide captions for images where none exist, helping the disabled person get a clearer understanding of the author’s message. However, some do not work properly with Web 2.0, as mentioned above, and this is a concern. As you can see screen readers open many doors for people with low vision who otherwise couldn’t use the web and developers need to make sure their Web 2.0 programs work with them. Numerous tests are available, and with articles bringing the need for access to the web by all people to developers and laws catching up to technological gains, Web 2.0 should become more accessible to all. This is important as many people with disabilities often use the web as their social medium. They often cannot get around easily and rely on the web for social contacts and entertainment. They would be missing out, once again, if these issues are not addressed and corrected.