According to WHO, about 285 million people, worldwide, are visually impaired. Many of them are internet users as suggested by a Microsoft study. The study concludes that one out of four internet users in the USA, suffer from some sort of vision difficulty. Moreover, the percent of the ageing population using the internet has increased over the years. Hence, websites built with the acknowledgment of the needs of the aged users, suffering from weak eyesight and other visually impaired users, can meet their end goal of reaching a larger audience more easily.The goal is especially important for government websites, websites catering to the visually impaired and websites of any kind that just want to increase their visitor/customer base.
A website which is friendly to the visually impaired, must offer functionalities such as text enlarging, text-to-speech conversion, contrastable web pages and etc. A Drupal website can provide such functionalities through the following modules and features:
- High Contrast:- This module allows users to switch to a high contrast version of the website. Users just need to press a keyboard button to do so. This ability to switch a website to higher contrast, allows comfortable accessibility to users with eye disorders such as cataract and retinopathy, which affect the eye’s ability to differentiate between similar shades and brightness levels.
- Text Resize:- This module allows users to change the text size of a Drupal website. The module provides a block that gives users the ability to adjust text size. Thus, a short-sighted person can easily enlarge the website text. The module can be activated in any Drupal Website Theme.
- eSpeak TTS:- The module gives the functionality of converting text of the website into audio format. The module is available in Drupal 7. In a lower version of Drupal 6, such similar functionality is provided by the Free TTS module. Such functionality is a great feature for users suffering from any kind of eye imperfection, be it a minor one or a major one.
- Enabling Alt Text in Image Field:- Alternative text must be enabled for all images, if we want to retain website visitors having any kind of eye defect. This feature can be enabled in an image field module and it provides a descriptive text, when the user’s cursor hovers over an image.
Thus, the Drupal CMS can be very efficiently used to make websites that can be easily accessed by people with any kind of visual impairment. This ease of accessibility is not only an advantage to the visually impaired but also for web based ventures who wish to widen their visitor base, governments and organisations who wish to make themselves more widely available through the internet.