Supporting People with Vision Problems Online
Today marks World Sight Day, the goal of which is to raise public awareness of blindness and vision impairment. As a company that is very familiar with the many and varied online needs of those with vision problems, this is certainly something that the team at Recite Me are passionate about supporting.
Did you know that at least 2.2 billion people globally suffer from a vision impairment or blindness?
Within this number are people who are registered blind or are partially sighted, plus all other people whose sight problems mean they face barriers when carrying out their daily activities.
According to recent reports, it’s predicted that the number of people with sight loss will more than double by 2050, meaning nearly 4 million people in the UK, and a staggering 25 million people in the USA will struggle with decreased vision. With this in mind, it is paramount that people with vision impairments are supported and included in the online world.
Common Types of Visual Impairment
There are many different types of blindness, each one affecting people in different ways. The most common forms of visual impairment include:
Loss of Central Vision – where a blur or blind spot occurs in the central line of sight, making tasks like reading and recognizing faces difficult.
Loss of Peripheral Vision – the opposite of central vision loss. People can see directly ahead of them, but nothing to one or both sides, and perhaps anything directly above or below eye level too. Sometimes referred to as ‘tunnel vision’, this makes reading difficult as it is only possible to see a few words at a time.
Blurred Vision – despite amazing modern options for corrective lenses in spectacles and contacts, this form of sight loss is so severe that objects in both near and far focus fields become blurred.
Generalized Haze – the entire viewing field is obscured by a film or glare that makes objects impossible to focus on properly.
Extreme Light Sensitivity – often resulting in pain or physical discomfort, those with extreme light sensitivity see ‘washed out’ images and/or bright glare in their line of vision.
Night Blindness – the inability to see in dimly lit areas in both indoor and outdoor settings.
Deafblindness - Deafblindness is often referred to as ‘dual sensory loss’ or ‘dual sensory impairment’, and is characterized by the loss of sight and hearing to the point where communication and access to information is impacted.
Colour Vision Deficiency - often referred to as colour blindness. Colour blindness is an inability to see colours in a normal way, which includes being unable to distinguish between certain colours (usually greens and reds, but sometimes blues too.)
Reading through this list of symptoms, it is easy to see how people with vision impairments will have difficulties with regular tasks such as searching for and reading information online. Whether it’s doing the weekly food shop, planning a holiday, paying utility bills, using social media, or logging into online banking, suddenly, all of the things that many of us take for granted become much more complicated.
It doesn’t have to be this way though. Website providers can support people with vision impairments by improving their website accessibility, and that’s where Recite Me comes in.
Web Accessibility for People with Vision Problems
Recite Me’s assistive toolbar provides businesses and organisations with a quick and easy way to make their websites fully accessible to people with visual impairments. By removing barriers and allowing site visitors to customise web pages in a way that works best for them, websites become instantly inclusive and much more user friendly.
Unlike alternative products that do not account for such a wide variety of parameters and may not be fully optimised for mobile access, Recite Me offers a totally accessible design solution that can be used on any device. Among other features, the Recite Me toolbar includes:
A screen reader, which converts text to speech in 35 languages.
Text only mode, to strip away distracting graphics.
Options to alter margins and reposition text on the page.
The ability to change font sizes, font colour, font spacing, and colour contrast between the background and foreground.
These functions make websites much more friendly spaces for users who suffer from visual impairments, and the results demonstrate significant usage and benefits. Our last 12 months of data show that:
The Recite Me toolbar has been launched over 2 million times.
Over 10 million accessible pages have been viewed.
24.6 million pieces of content have been read aloud thanks to our screen reader.
Over 1 million reading aids have been activated.
Of course, the Recite Me accessibility software isn’t only for those with decreased vision. Our toolbar functions also help people who suffer from a wide range of learning difficulties and disabilities including dyslexia, hyperlexia, ADHD, epilepsy, physical incapacities, and those who speak English as a second language.
Additional Benefits of Having an Accessible Website
Improving web accessibility doesn’t just benefit the visually impaired and other disabled users, it benefits everyone. It is estimated that the average worker spends around 35 hours per week staring at a computer screen. Therefore, it’s hardly a surprise that 90% of people experience some kind of screen fatigue. This can come in the form of blurry vision, irritated eyes, headaches, or a drop in colour perception. And this is just for regular sighted people, without factoring in any additional vision problems! So by embracing assistive technology, everyone can make adjustments for improved comfort and reduced fatigue.
There are also cost benefits. Aside from the fact that it’s simply the right thing to do, businesses risk missing out on a huge chunk of their target market if their websites are not accessible. Furthermore, if an organization’s web product is not accessible, disabled users may have grounds to make a discrimination claim under the Equality Act of 2010.
Make Your Website Accessible Today!