Website Design for Various Audiences (NQ4 Make Up)

This reading reminded me of a class I took in the past, 6.813, User Interface Design and Implementation (no longer offered). This class focused on how to design good user interfaces for the general audience, not just for people with disabilities. As a computer science major, this reading made me think about how to make websites more accessible for people with disabilities: how can we make websites safer (error-prone) and more efficient for everyone?

In the first couple classes, we used the Voice Over feature on iPhones to see the feature for people with visual impairments. Similarly, some desktop websites also have features similar to Voice Over. On some websites, clicking on an area tells the user what is at that point, and if the user wishes to continue, the user would click the same spot again. There are some apps that read the website content to the user. In order for the app to read the content, there has to be text; icons and pictures cannot be read, unless there are descriptions of the image, which is not guaranteed. If we were to reduce icons and pictures on a website, however, it might put illiterate or international users at disadvantage. In 6.813, we learned that icons actually facilitate website navigation for many users, especially illiterate and international users. This demonstrates how one design might benefit one group of users and put another at disadvantage.

Not all websites today are equipped for blind users. In order for a website to be friendly to blind users, while designing a website, it is important for the designer to include captions for images, since it would allow the Voice Over feature to read the content to users with visual impairments.

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