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I need your opinion on creating a news site for blind readers. After some research, the most common technology is text to voice. I want to know if there are other implementations available. Someone suggested implementing vibration or sound cues. Imagine this as a website or a mobile app. If text to voice is the only option here, I want to know what are some of the best layouts you've encountered.

Thank you.

  • Associations for blind people have a lot of expertise in this area. Your local one might be worth a call. – PhillipW Sep 5 '16 at 10:53
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If this is specifically for blind users, many use external text to speech tools like JAWS, NVDA and Windows Eyes. JAWS also supports alternate accessibility technologies like tactile braille devices.

So you need to look at this problem from a different perspective. How you code your website makes a hug difference to these text to speech tools.

The WC3 set up the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) and they created the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) to help developers create webs sites which work for everyone. These guidelines are technology agnostic (although they have many supporting documents related to web technologies).

A good place to start is here: https://www.w3.org/WAI/ and https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/

You should also understand Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) because these can be added to your html to further help blind users who use screen readers https://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/aria

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    This one. Additional if you concentrate on content first, e.g. smashingmagazine.com/2015/02/design-last then you build in accessibility from the start, not tagged on as an afterthought because accessibility is in essence making content make sense in all contexts. Also you definitely should know ARIA inside out, but additionally spot that if you are having to use it you are usually (not always) doing something more complicated than you need to, or there is a more semantically correct bit of markup you can use instead. – Jonny Sep 5 '16 at 15:44
  • Good point @Jonny. The W3C make a very clear statement on the use of ARIA, e.g.their first rule of ARIA - If you can use a native HTML element or attribute with the semantics and behaviour you require already built in, instead of re-purposing an element and adding an ARIA role, state or property to make it accessible, then do so. w3.org/TR/aria-in-html/#first-rule-of-aria-use – SteveD Sep 5 '16 at 15:49
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Vibration or sound cues sound interesting, but I'm not sure if they will be helpful to blind users who are not used to such cues - it may even confuse them.

I find your "some of the best layouts you've encountered" question confusing though - if you're thinking of text to voice as the default solution, then "layout" shouldn't be in the picture at all. I assume you're thinking of structure? If that's the case I'm going to suggest using the typical header > sidebar > main content > footer structure for the blind user to navigate between sections. Within the main section, I'd think each news article should have a standard structure so that when the user browses from article to article, he or she will always have a consistent interface to interact with - e.g. article header > article content > "read full article" link. At the end of the day, I believe the point is to help blind users create in their mind this clear structured information they can easily navigate through.

Hope that helps.

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  • Correct, no actual layouts here. Someone told me blind people won't be able to grasp 2d layouts and structures. So, I was thinking something a little beyond usual conceptions. – Eshwaren Manoharen Sep 6 '16 at 3:33

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