How to adapt your web content for deaf and hard of hearing people

How to adapt your web content for deaf and hard of hearing people

September 20, 2023

Laws regarding accessibility of online resources have been in place for some time, in both Canada (2019) and the United States and Europe. In 2021, Ontario increased its requirements and we can expect a move toward greater accessibility of web content in the coming years. An interview on this topic with Kim Oclair, a web communications consultant.

When you are not familiar with the reality of a person with a disability, you may think that the Internet is a choice – almost perfect – tool for obtaining information. After all, a hard of hearing person can focus on “text” content and a blind person can focus on “audio” content. However, Kim Auclair reflects a much more complex reality.

For many people, like me, who are immersed in the world of hearing, it is very difficult to follow online courses, webinars, etc. Even subjects in regular classes at school. I know people who have struggled to adjust their schedules, access course notes, and progress at their own pace. For my part, when I was younger, I didn’t dare talk about my deafness at school. I often had to work twice as hard as others. »

Since the beginning of the pandemic, remote workers “without disabilities” have discovered the challenge of understanding each other in virtual conversations. We can easily imagine that the challenge is two-fold for a deaf or hard of hearing person who wants to interact online or consult certain content.

One of the big obstacles that deaf and hard of hearing people face every day is access to information, says Kim Oclair. Adapting online content or making it accessible to them reduces the chances of them missing out on information.

Don’t limit yourself to translation

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What you need to understand is that a person who conveys information over the web (through videos, webinars, Zoom meetings, online training, podcasts, etc.) has thousands and thousands of opportunities to make life easier for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. It goes beyond just adding subtitles to a video.

We’re talking about translation, but it’s also about using simple words and images. Agree to provide feedback at the end of the live Zoom event. Make sure you have good lighting to make lip reading easier. Send an agenda or topics to be discussed before the meeting or presentation. Eliminate visual distractions in videos, agree to paraphrase what you just said or offer to explain things in writing (in chat) if you’re asked to clarify a message…”

Kim Auclair remembers the importance of keeping the “eye focused” on a person’s face. After the virtual meeting, it is possible to do something that will make a big difference, for example sending a summary of the exchange via email. In the case of an asynchronous video or webinar, you can transcribe the audio files using an application.

Naturally, the advisor realizes that deploying these strategies requires an investment of time and sometimes, money. At the same time, there are financial assistance programs to cover the costs of making content available.

In addition to helping many more people than we think, these small actions allow everyone to feel a sense of belonging, says Kim Oclair. It also increases the chances of participating more in discussions. »

In the end, everyone wins.

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About the Author: Octávio Florencio

"Evangelista zumbi. Pensador. Criador ávido. Fanático pela internet premiado. Fanático incurável pela web."

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