People with vision loss have benefited greatly from technology. Someone who is blind or partially sighted may use a computer (and the Internet) through various methods.
The three most common are:
- Screen-magnifying software: software programs that allow a user to choose a desired magnification level for what is shown on a computer screen.
- Screen-reading software: software programs that use a synthetic voice program to indicate what is typed or read on a computer screen.
- A refreshable braille keyboard: a keyboard that typically fits just below a standard computer keyboard and contains one line of braille text. Upon reading one line, the reader can press a key to “refresh” the line, and metal pins will pop up or down to reflect a new line of braille.
Computers and digital technology offer many additional reading methods for people with vision loss. Someone with vision loss may read streamed audio content on computers or download digital text, audio or braille files to read at their computer or on portable electronic devices.
However, computers and digital technology have their own set of accessibility requirements. Not all websites or computer workstations are accessible for people with vision loss. In the built environment, this will affect electronic aids such as information kiosks and video terminals. Please see the section on information kiosks. For general information on accessible website design (which also applies to the accessibility of any computer kiosk or workstation), see the Web Accessibility Initiative at w3.org.