How Does A Person With A Visual Impairment Read A Website?

A laptop with a refreshable braille display for a personal with a visual impairment

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How a person with visual impairment reads a website

If you’re visually impaired or blind, how the heck do you read the internet? Well, this is a question I get quite often. There are many ways to read web pages if you’re visually impaired. But before I get into that, let’s break down what exactly makes up a website.

How does a person who is visually impaired read a website?

People who are visually impaired have to rely on other methods to access the web. These include using screen readers and magnifiers.

A screen reader is an application that reads information on a webpage or application as you navigate through it. Screen readers work by scanning the code of a webpage and converting it into audio which you listen to as you move through your browser.

Magnifiers are another tool used by people with visual impairment. It enlarges small text so that it appears larger than the normal size on your screen. So even if someone has poor eyesight or poor vision in general, they can still read what’s written down there.

Person using a Braille writer with a computer

What is alternative text, and why is it important?

The alternative text (ALT text) is the text that is displayed when a picture is not available.  It’s what you see when you hover over an image and what a screen reader reads aloud when someone uses one of these devices to browse the internet. 

Here’s an example:

Let’s say we are looking at a picture of a dog who is catching a frisbee with brown hair, medium size.

If you hover over this picture with your cursor, you will see that it has alt text saying, ” A brown-haired dog with a medium-sized body is catching a frisbee in mid-air.”

It isn’t as hard as it sounds once you get started!

What are the alternative text types used in web development?

Some general guidelines exist for all pages: the ALT tag should be short, descriptive, and easy to read. Here are the different types of alternative text used in web development.

  • Title: The title attribute is used to provide a brief description of your image. Although it’s not required, it’s recommended that you use one so that people with visual impairments can know what an image is about without having to load it.
  • Description: The description attribute gives more information about an element (such as an image) than just what’s contained in its alt text. You can include this information if there are multiple images on one page or if you want people using nonvisual browsers to gain access to the context of each picture.

The benefits of using screen readers or other assistive technology

There are many benefits for blind people using screen readers:

  • Screen reader technology is available on most platforms (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux) so you don’t need to worry about compatibility issues when using your device;
  • It’s free! Most operating systems come with built-in screen reader software which means there isn’t anything extra you need for your computer/tablet/phone etc., to work properly;
  • It helps those who have trouble seeing things clearly due to one reason or another such as age-related conditions like macular degeneration (which affects nearly half a million Americans), glaucoma, or cataracts – all these things could result in blindness if left untreated.

Can you make your website more user-friendly for people with visual impairment?

If you’re interested in making your website more accessible to people with visual impairment, there are some things that you can do.

First, ask an expert. There are many organizations and groups dedicated to helping people with visual impairments navigate the web. You can contact these groups for advice and feedback on how to make your content more accessible.

Second, ask me! I’m happy to help if I can (just send me an email or DM).

Thirdly, go read blogs about how people are making their content more accessible! There are lots of great articles about web accessibility – so go check them out!


I hope this article has helped you understand some of the basics of how a blind person reads a website. The best way to make sure your website is accessible for all users is by following some simple guidelines like making sure that all images have alternative text for people using screen readers on your site. The more people who use assistive technology to access the internet, the more important it becomes for web developers to create websites that are accessible by everyone regardless of disability or ability level.

Interested in making your website more accessible? Let’s chat!


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