Addressing Challenges in Web Accessibility for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Addressing Challenges in Web Accessibility for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Angela Guercio (Kent State University at Stark, USA), Kathleen A. Stirbens (Kent State University at Stark, USA), Joseph Williams (Kent State University at Stark, USA) and Charles Haiber (Kent State University at Stark, USA)
Copyright: © 2011 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/ijdet.2011100101
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Abstract

Searching for relevant information on the web is an important aspect of distance learning. This activity is a challenge for visually impaired distance learners. While sighted people have the ability to filter information in a fast and non sequential way, blind persons rely on tools that process the information in a sequential way. Learning is slowed by screen readers which do not interact well with web pages. This paper introduces WAVES, a tool for the fast retrieval of information in a web page for blind and visually impaired people. The paper describes the WAVES prototype, a system that performs a page restructuring of webpages. The system analyzes webpages, identifies elements of interests from a webpage, evaluates their importance by using semantic information and visual cues, sorts them by importance and uses them to restructure the webpage so that data from the original webpage are presented to the reader in a concise format. A preliminary evaluation test of the prototype system has been performed with a sample set of users. The results of the preliminary test show an increase in speed and accuracy when the WAVES system has been used.
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Web Accessibility And Technology Support

The problem of web accessibility is well known. Many recommendations and legislation (U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Disability Rights Section, 2005) have been produced to support the needs of blind and visually impaired persons (Moreno, Martinez, & Ruiz-Mezcua, 2008). The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has developed a series of accessibility standards and guidelines (Web Accessbility Initiative) for the creation of a website that is perceivable, operable, understandable and robust. Provisions were made for accessible video and content, how to include such content in web pages, and how to facilitate the user’s interaction with this content. These attempts at standardization still leave the actual strategy to accomplish this to the web developer. The American Foundation for the Blind and the National Federation of the Blind support such reccommendations. The latest version of such reccommendations is the Web Content Accessibility Guideline 2.0 (WCAG 2.0) which is available at W3C website (W3C, 2008).

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