February is Low Vision Awareness Month!

According to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), an estimated 1.5 million Canadians have some form of significant vision loss. Low vision encompass a broad range of experiences that may change the way the individual interacts with the web.

At Carleton University, we strive to be a more inclusive community. As such, we have developed a website template that can be accessed by everyone. However, we need your help (website owners and editors) in creating accessible web content!

What is Low Vision?

Low vision is a term used to describe a visual impairment that cannot be fully corrected by glasses, contact lenses, or surgery. People with low vision may have difficulty seeing details, distinguishing colours, or perceiving depth. To access digital content, individuals may use assistive technologies such as:

  1. Screen magnifiers: Screen magnifiers are software applications that enlarge the content on a computer screen, making text and images easier to see for people with low vision. Check out how screen magnifiers work here.
  2. Screen-readers: Screen readers are software applications that read the content of a web page aloud. People with low vision can use screen readers to read everything from top to bottom, one line at a time, heading by heading, or link by link. Check out how screen readers work here.
  3. Special Browsers: Special browsers (such as WebbIE) provide features such as magnification, color contrast adjustment, and text-to-speech capabilities. These special browsers can provide a more accessible and user-friendly web browsing experience for people with low vision.

Making Your Website Accessible

To ensure that your website content is accessible for people with low vision, it should be formatted in a way that can be processed by assistive technologies. Here are some ways to make text, images, and videos more accessible:

Text Accessibility

  • Use heading and subheading tags: Headings (such as H1, H2, H3) are used to structure content. Screen-readers can use the heading tags to create a table of contents for the page, allowing visitors to quickly jump to the section they need.
  • Use descriptive link text and buttons: Screen-readers can list all the links on a page for more efficient navigation. Your link texts and buttons should accurately reflect the content of the linked page. Avoid using generic text like “click here”, as it can be difficult for people with low vision to understand the context of the link.
  • Use relevant page titles: Your page titles should accurately describe the topic or purpose of the page. This allows visitors to determine what your webpage is about without having to spend valuable time scanning through its content.

Image Accessibility

  • Provide alternative text for images: Alt text can be read aloud by screen readers. Use alt text to provide descriptions of images on your website as this allows people with low vision to better understand the content. Learn more about writing proper alt text here.
  • Use high-quality images: Use high-quality images that are clear and easy to see, as low resolution images can be difficult to distinguish for people with low vision.
  • Use appropriate image sizes: Use appropriate image sizes that are not too small or too large. This helps people with low vision to see the image more clearly without needing to zoom in.

Video Accessibility

  • Provide captions and transcripts: Provide captions and transcripts for videos; this can help people with low vision to better understand the content of the video. Check out our blogpost on generating transcripts and closed captioning from Youtube videos.
  • Use high-quality videos: Use high resolution videos that are clear and easy to see, as low resolution videos can be difficult to distinguish for people with low vision.
  • Use high-contrast text and graphics: Use high-contrast text and graphics in your videos to make it easier for people with low vision to see and understand the content. This can include using larger fonts, bold text, and high-contrast colours.

Conclusion and Additional Resources

Low Vision Awareness Month is an important reminder of the challenges faced by people with low vision and the importance of web accessibility. By designing website content that is accessible to all users, including those with low vision, we can create a more inclusive and equitable web for everyone.

Check out our self-guided Web Accessibility Training to learn more about best practices and how to implement them!