I was wondering if this is a good practice to propose a link visible to screen-reader only at the beginning of my website, that would lead the user to a very simplified and optimised version of my website for blind users.

The other option is to optimize the existing website to support blind users as much as normal users.

By website I also refer to complex webapps, with potentially visual information inside it: Treeview, maps, tables... these are basically visual representations, not necessarily easy to understand by blind users

What would be the best practice here?


1 Answer 1


No. Best practice is not to have a separate screen-reader version of the site.

Suggesting you should have a screen-reader version of the site infers that your main site won't be. Which doesn't really make any sense, because a non-screen-reader optimised site would be one not built to proper HTML web standards. And why would you intentionally build a non-standard website?

You should just build your website properly using correct web standards and as a result it will just be screen-reader friendly. Not only that, but standards compliant sites will have better SEO (if you care about that). And it means you only have one codebase to maintain.

Making sites optimal for all users shouldn't be an additional task. If you build things properly in the first place then you just get an optimised site as a result.

  • 2
    I understand your point for a simple website. My case is a little different as it is almost a web app. I mean that we use a lot of custom components... and there are other concerns like how do I manage when I need to represent data visually (like a map) for sr-users? That's because of this: I sometimes feel like blind users have to adapt to visual representations
    – Leths
    Apr 4, 2016 at 9:06
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    @Leths is there alternate content you're planning on putting in place of the visual information, and is there a reason it couldn't be included as the alternative text within the normal app's content? JonW's answer still stands even with a web app. Consider as well that a lot of folks may end up getting to the app through deep links and would miss the reader-friendly reference. Better to support SR needs concurrently in main content.
    – Matthew
    Apr 4, 2016 at 9:16
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    Current WCAG recommendations are to have alternate versions of the various items of content, not of the website / app as a whole. w3.org/TR/UNDERSTANDING-WCAG20/text-equiv.html It's not just for screenreader users - people who are only partially sighted can still benefit from the full experience but may want an alternative to just a single element on screen (such as a textual version of a diagram / infographic). Basically - make each element on the page as accessible as possible, and provide an alternative version of that element if that is not possible.
    – JonW
    Apr 4, 2016 at 9:19
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    The penultimate paragraph contains an important point: Google Bot is essentially a blind person with a four-year-old's capacity for understanding language and a browser from 1994. Apr 4, 2016 at 12:47
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    @JörgWMittag IIRC a few years ago Google's crawler got some capabilities to run javascript to allow it to index sites that were constructed in a highly dynamic fashion. It might still have the other impairments; but it does have at least have some capabilities of a modern browser. Apr 4, 2016 at 15:55

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