Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Thoughts on the Accessibility of Online Shopping

By Donna J. Jodhan

As the saying goes, there is always room for improvement.  Some websites are more accessible than others when it comes to online shopping.  Some websites are more conscious of making their online shopping sites more accessible than others.  Some companies prefer to ignore accessibility when it comes to online shopping, while others give it a best effort try. 

More companies are going the online shopping route and, while this bodes well for society as a whole, it can be viewed as a possible double-edged sword for blind people. Here are a few thoughts for you to ponder.

  • Many blind people are still unable to afford the technology that would enable them to take advantage of the Internet.  
  • Many websites are still not very accessible to blind people.  Accordingly, they need to depend on sighted assistance in order to get by.  
  • Many websites use graphics and icons to illustrate their products and for blind people, this is a big challenge because their screen reading technology is unable to decipher graphics and icons without alt text or descriptions. 
  • Blind people are unable to complete the order forms that are necessary in order to purchase items because the forms are inaccessible. 

It is hoped that with time, all of these issues and more will be addressed by those companies that offer online shopping.  It is not as difficult to affect accessibility as you may think.  Making your online shopping accessible to blind people can benefit many others as well--the technically shy, people with other disabilities, and those who did not grow up in the era of technology. 

If you'd like to learn more about me, then you can visit some of my blog spots at:
(Donna Jodhan! Advocating accessibility for all)

(Weekly Saturday postings on issues of accessibility)

(Weekly features on how to increase your success with your business ventures)

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