Case Study: Blindness

Ms. Laitinen, Accountant with blindness

Ms. Laitinen is the chief accountant at an insurance company that uses web-based documents and forms over a corporate intranet. She is blind and, like many other blind computer users, does not read braille.

To use her computer and the Web, Ms. Laitinen uses:

  • Screen reader software that interprets what is displayed on the screen and generates speech output
  • Web browser with keyboard support to help use websites without a mouse

She uses the keyboard to navigate websites, often by jumping from heading to heading to get an overview of what is on a web page. Her screen reader indicates the structural information on a web page such as headings, column and row headings in tables, list items, links, form controls, and more. She has become accustomed to listening to speech output at a speed that her co-workers cannot understand at all. However, when websites are not coded properly and do not include structural information, Ms. Laitinen would have to read every web page from top to bottom to find the information that she needs. This is unmanageable and she avoids such websites where she can, both for leisure and for business.

Much of the information on the intranet documents used at her company is organized in tables, which can sometimes be difficult to read by people using screen readers. However, since the tables in these documents are marked up properly, she easily orients herself to the information in the tables. The documents also include alternative text for images, labels for form elements, and other navigational cues that are interpreted by the screen reader.

As one of the more senior members of the accounting staff, Ms. Laitenen must frequently train employees who are based at different locations using a virtual learning environment. This includes video conferencing, document and slide sharing, as well as a live chatroom. It was a challenge to find a solution that was accessible to her and to other employees with disabilities, but it proved to be beneficial for many of the staff.

Our question to you is:

  • If Ms. Laitinen visits your website, would she be able use your multimedia file like PDFs, and is the website able to be surfed without a mouse?
  • Would she book mark you, for future reference and purchases?
  • Does your website use accessible PDFs, Docs and uses keyboard support?

Case Study from: The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
Our Questions from: IceWeb Solutions’ Staff