Making Your Blog Accessible for Blind Readers

This post is about accessibility of blogs for users who are blind. I realize that many of you are not aware of this issue, so my advice is not meant to offend. If you are doing anything that makes your blog inaccessible, don't feel that I'm nagging against you personally.

I am an avid blogger. I use WordPess for my own blog, which is generally quite accessible using my screen reader. Blogger is a lot less accessible, but I'll get to that later.

There are a few general guidelines that you are advised to take into consideration if you want to make your blog readable to blind users. Screen readers can't read images, for example, so it is important that you use an alternative text with an image you post. I am aware that Blogger, for example, won't let you do that, but if at all possible, try this. Also, for people who are partially sighted, contrasting colors are important. I am not even sure whether I use a good theme in this regard on my own blog, since I cannot see it myself. It is recommended - but not a sin if you don't - that if you use audio or video, you provide captoions and/or a transcript. This makes it easier for blind or deaf users to access your audio or video message.

If you like comments, here are a few guidelines for making commenting as accessible as possible. For blind users, visual CAPTCHAs (word verifications) are impossible to work out because screen readers do not read the text that's in an image. The best thing is to avoid the use of CAPTCHAs altogether, but if you get a lot of spam and have a poor spam filter, you are advised to provide an optional audio CAPTCHA. Blogger already does this automatically. Alternatively, if you host your blog on your own site, you can get a different kind of CAPTCHA entirely, for example one where you have to do a simple calculation. These are harder to fool by spammers anyway. :)

One last note on commenting, which was the original reason I started this blog post, is that Blogger has one very inaccessible comment mode. It is the one with the drop-down menu. This comment mode not only does not work on at least some screen readers (mine, for example), but is also difficult to use on mobile devices. I've avoided a host of lovely blogs for the simple reason that they used this inaccessible comment mode. So, if you want to make sure all blind readers can comment on yoru posts like everyone else (assuming you have comments enabled at all, of course), please avoid this comment mode.

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