Holdcom’s mission is to spread the power of audio marketing. But every now and then I reflect how our daily operations - from sound editing, to client relations, to conference calls – rely on the assumption that our clients [and their customer base] have an unimpaired ability to hear – or see.
According to BizReport, more and more websites are “ensuring visually impaired [internet] users have the same access to information as others.” One such example is Travelocity, an online booking agency. As per “agreement with the National Federation of the Blind…by the end of March, 2010, the entire sight will be accessible to blind users.”
With audio impaired individuals, hearing aids or increased volume can help convey information – but all of the data is accessible through visual means. For partially sighted or blind individuals, completing everyday tasks via a visually based medium is extremely difficult.
Several means of assisting the visually impaired are:
- Having an option to increase text size or to magnify the screen.
- Using screen readers, or software that can detect the presence of ASCII code in the website’s source: all information written in that format can be transferred to a “speech synthesizer." Speech synthesizers can “identify/read text and graphic, announce window functions such as ‘close’ or ‘minimize,’ and aurally direct a mouse.
- Braille keyboards or Braille displays.
Though text to speech technology is flexible, it can obscure unrecognized words and sound robotic. Professional voice talent can read specialized scripts – or a website guide - directed towards the visually impaired to assist in website navigation.
Business owners – especially in the services sector – should be aware that there is a large handicapped community that wants the same services as others. By making their website or location handicapped accessible, whether it is auditory, visual, or motor, allows for equal participation – and showcases excellent, if not honorable, customer service.