Translations of this article are available in:
- German - External Link - courtesy of Magen Darm Grippe
Something to Think About...
Most developers don't think about individuals who are deaf when they think of web accessibility. For too many developers, web accessibility consists of adhering to a few guidelines that ensure accessibility to screen readers for the blind. On one level, this is understandable. People who are blind will have the most trouble, since the web is a visual medium... or is it?
On a basic level, the web is information. That information can be presented visually or auditorily. It can be presented in graphics, video, audio, animation, or in text. Our most common experience with web content is what we view through the portal of our web browser, which generally consists of text and graphics, but the web is much more than this. Anyone who has ever used RealPlayer, Windows Media Player, or Quicktime knows that these programs can play video content from the web. In fact, in many cases it is unnecessary to open a browser at all. These media players are themselves browsers. They can access web-based multimedia content, and some can even display HTML content.
Take a quick look at these screen shots of pages on CNN.com and BBC.co.uk:
There are links throughout these sites that allow users to access video clips (though, in the case of CNN.com, you have to first subscribe to the service). Video, audio, and multimedia content is becoming more and more common on the web. Video content is available on most major news web sites, even some local news web sites. Unfortunately for those who are deaf, captioned audio is still almost nonexistent on the web. The tools to caption web video exist, and the concept of captioning has been around for decades. It's just a matter of doing it. Captioned web video is even required by law in some places (i.e. federal government and other web sites that fall under Section 508 of the United States).