People who are blind generally use a screen reader to navigate their computer or mobile device. The considerations below cover both blind users who are using a screen reader and blind users who are not. A person who is deafblind they may be using a Braille display instead.
- Make sure your content follows a linear, logical layout 1.
- Write descriptive links and headings, for example “Contact Us” 1.
- Present all content in text or in a text equivalent, because screen readers can only read text content 2.
- Ensure all functionality and interactivity can be accessed by keyboard, because while most blind users can move a mouse or a trackpad, they can’t see where the pointer is 2.
- Use semantic HTML. Screen readers offer users the ability to navigate by headings, landmarks, and other semantic elements when they’re present 2.
- Provide forms and data tables where the information is easy to scan and understand even at 400x zoom.
- Use the correct name or label, role, and value for custom controls through either HTML or ARIA to ensure that screen reader users understand what is going on2.
- Provide immediate feedback after the user or the system take an action. If the browser is silent, the user doesn’t know whether something failed or succeeded, or even finished 2.
- Ensure videos have audio descriptions if the video’s audio track doesn’t describe the visual scenes of the video. Otherwise a blind person won’t understand what they’re watching 2.
- Label buttons and loading states in native mobile apps so that they are read by screen readers 3.
- Provide usage hints in iOS and Android to provide additional guidance 3.
- Provide a clear exit path from modal dialogs in native applications 3 (and web applications).
- Use sound to communicate messaging such as signaling that something was successful on native apps 3.
- Don’t only provide information in an image or video 1.
- Don’t spread content all over a page 1.
- Don’t convey information based solely on visual attributes such as the position of something, its color, thickness, background highlight, etc. because screen readers generally can’t access visual information 2.
- Don’t rely on text size and placement for structure 1.
- Don’t write uninformative links and headings, for example, “Click here” 1.
- Don’t use custom swipe actions on mobile devices or touchscreens. Screen reader users control their screen readers on phones and tablets using swipe actions. If you create custom swipe actions, either the screen reader will ignore your swipe action or your swipe action will break the screen reader. Ensure all functionality uses a click action 2.
- Don’t open a new browser tab or window without telling the user that’s what’s going to happen. Otherwise they can become disoriented.
What people with blindness say about themselves.
- Society for the Blind pointers to encourage sighted individuals to feel comfortable and at ease with someone who is blind
- Helpful Resources: I’m a Carer, Family or Friend by Vision Australia
- The Things You Don’t See by a 21-year-old woman going blind is a blog where she discusses her experiences in life and answers questions on tumblr.
- WebAIM Screen Reader User Survey #9 includes quantitative and qualitative research directly from people using screen readers on how the web is doing (as of 2021).
- What I learned by going blind by Ingrid Ricks on Salon talks about retinitis pigmentosa.
- What It’s Like To Be A Legally Blind Illustrator And Graphic Designer by Keith Rosson at Huffington Post.
- Elsa S. Henry wrote a column on Terrible Minds called So You Wanna Write A Blind Character? that covers what it’s like to be blind from a blind person’s point of view. Elsa explains how she uses Twitter (reading glasses and Dragon Naturally Speaking), social cues, statistics about blind folks, and guide dogs.
- Alexa is a revelation for the blind by Ian Bogost talks about how, for many blind people, being able to communicate with another human being without someone being a passthrough is a service they may have never had until VUI.
- How the Visually Impaired Experience Hubble Images by NASA is a video of Denna Lambert at the Goddard Space Center describing using this book to learn about telescopes and stars and nebula and planets for the first time.
- Losing my sight made me a better designer by Soren Hamby on Medium
- For the basics of what a screen reader is, see Screen Readers. For screen reader links and instructions, see Testing tools.
- Designing for Screen Reader Compatibility by WebAIM
- Blindness statistics by the National Federation of the Blind
- Dos and don’ts on designing for accessibility by Karwai Pun at Gov.UK
- Accessibility Fundamentals – Disabilities, Guidelines, and Laws at Deque University
- How to design accessible mobile experiences for the blind by Ayesha Zafar on Willowtree