Why web accessibility is critical to low-vision users

18 Jun 2012
180-Day WebSight Pledge

Robin Spinks, principal manager for digital accessibility at RNIB explains why our joint 180-Day WebSight Pledge is so important

Having just celebrated the last birthday of my thirties, it's hard to think of an area of my life where the internet does not play a critical role.

I've grown up as a person with low vision, never really thinking of myself as being different from anyone else. But stopping for one moment and reflecting, I'm quickly reminded of the life-enhancing role that technology has played throughout my life.

I've always been interested in gadgets and got my first computer back in 1984. Throughout my education, computers helped to level the playing field for me. But it's in the past few years that I've seen the biggest change. And it's during the time that technology has transformed my life.

I've always struggled with reading print, either in newspapers or magazines. But the onset of ebooks and the advent of apps has changed all that for me. I can now search, discover and enjoy books in my preferred font size. Of course I can also browse the web and read online news articles in a font size which works for me. No more struggling to see small type!

Having access to the internet has made my life much more enjoyable, productive and fulfilling. On a daily basis I use the web for banking, shopping, catching up on news and of course, social networking.

I'm keenly aware of the importance of good web design. A well designed site will work for me. I'll use it regularly, return to it happily and willingly recommend it to others. Conversely, a site that disappoints through having poor accessibility won't get bookmarked, revisited or talked about positively. Similarly with apps, they've just got to be easy to use, with easy to configure font sizes and contrast.

Small changes and a little forethought in terms of design can make such a massive difference to the experience of the UK's 1.8 million people with sight loss

I'm delighted to support the campaign and to encourage people to make simple but important changes to their digital services. Small changes and a little forethought in terms of design can make such a massive difference to the experience of the UK's 1.8 million people with sight loss.

We're all familiar with good physical access to shops and public facilities. Let's move forward and apply that same positivity of spirit to our digital services, reaping the benefits of good design and ease of access.

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