By: Peter Dowell

In the rapidly advancing world of technology there are so many strives that have been made that improved how society can work. But as technology gets more advanced there are some people in society that are being forgotten about or not given enough thought about how they will use the technology. I am talking about people with disabilities. People that have disabilities should be able to interact with technology just the same as most other people so that they can enjoy and learn with technology. This is the reason that accessibility is something that should be given more thought into when developing technologies as it benefits the users and the developers.

The topic that I am going to be exploring is accessibility with technology. There have been multiple instances where accessibility has been an issue for people such as facial recognition not built for people with darker skin and people with disabilities not being able to use technologies because they were developed for people without disabilities. Some of the ideas that were discussed in class involved how algorithms can be developed to exclude people and make data skewed negatively. This sort of topic connects to accessibility because if there are exclusions made, even if it does not include algorithms, there is information lost and that data is useful. Accessibility can also include information from texts and books. There is so much information in books and other texts and they should be accessible to everyone that wants to view or learn from that information. Accessibility is especially important for WSU students and professors because it would be difficult to have online classes, especially in this time, where students could not access their textbooks because there is an accessibility issue. This could also affect the enrollment rate because if the site where potential students want to get information about WSU and it is not accessible to them, they are going to try and find a college website where they can get information about the university.

Technology is something that is very useful for preserving and exporting data and information. It also has its uses for ease of use like facial recognition to unlock a computer or to ignore the physical copy for a digital copy. In We are Data the author references dell’s very limited facial recognition laptop unlocking software that was a great thing for ease of use for the laptops. The problem was that it would not recognize the faces of the darker skinned users. Now this is interesting because it somewhat makes the technology “racist” because it is excluding the people that have darker skin tones, but I think it is more an accessibility issue.(Cheney-Lippold, 2019) If the developers of the software kept accessibility in mind they would have tested it on every skin color and noticed that the software doesn’t work on people with darker skin and wouldn’t have received the backlash by releasing a “racist” technology. The next thing that accessibility helps with is how it can make information accessible to everyone. In Homeland, at Burning Man they burned down a fake Library of Alexandria and the author cried because of all the information that was lost from that.(Doctorow, 2013) I think accessibility could be beneficial in this instance because there could have been a backup for the books in the library and even if the physical copies are not accessible the digital copies are.

A very good resource for information is the web, but the web also has its issues with accessibility. Don’t get me wrong, there have been great strides in web accessibility the past decade with text-to-speech software and color and contrast checkers, but it’s not prioritized as much and some of the technology is still lacking. There is an article talking about how web accessibility is important on that says “Making sure your site is welcoming to as many people as possible should be a top priority. “There’s no reason to exclude anybody, especially since it’s relatively easy to avoid doing so. Not only will your users thank you, but you’ll also likely see benefits in the form of increased traffic and conversions.” (Ellice, 2020) The author makes a very good point because it should be a priority to include everybody and it improves the numbers and traffic that come to the site. Most sites do not have the most accessible interfaces, for example, does not have the greatest accessibility so they made a separate site that is built specifically for accessibility. It is strange to have a site for Amazon to have a main site and then a separate site for accessibility, but it is a step in the right direction. In an article that was written in 2018, a user went on the web with a screen-reader to test the accessibility on sites and they found Amazon to have the headings in a non-hierarchal order so the h1 (which are read first by a screen reader) was too far below the other headers so it was reading in the wrong order. (Ashton, 2018) This kind of accessibility issue could stray people away from buying the product and lose Amazon money.

One of the ways accessibility has improved for people with disabilities is with screen readers. Screen readers are especially helpful for people that are vision impaired and allow them to use computers and browse the web. Even though the vision impaired people can use the web their experience can vary. This is because there is the difference between the software and difference between websites accessibility. WebAIM, a website that provides comprehensive accessibility solutions, created a survey from the data of people using a screen reader and the results of the software used were that 40.6% of respondents used NVDA and 40.1% used JAWS. These two screen readers are dominating the screen reader usage so let us explore how they work.

Here is a video showing how NVDA works. I have used NVDA in the past to explore how web accessibility and one big upside of the software is that it is free. The video does a great job in explaining how the technology works and after using it a bit in the past I was fairly impressed with how the screen reader worked. What I was not too impressed with was how some sites were very difficult to navigate because of accessibility issues.

The other popular screen reader is JAWS. This video is about a visually impaired person demoing how they use the software. They have become efficient with the software as they are using hotkeys to improve how they use the technology. JAWS is different compared to NVDA because it costs much more to use the software. It costs $1000 to get a Home Perpetual license. It can be argued that money can be an accessibility issue, but in this case, there is a free alternative that works just as well.

Accessibility improves as technology improves, but that can only be achieved if accessibility is kept in mind in development of the software or technology. I want to get some information about if anybody has used any web accessibility in the past and what sites they would use it on. This could raise some awareness about web accessibility and could improve how people use the technology as well.

Web Accessibility Survey


Ellice. (2020, September 01). 10 Ways to Make Your Website Accessible – DreamHost. Retrieved September 29, 2020, from

Ashton, C. (2018, December 19). I Used The Web For A Day Using A Screen Reader. Retrieved September 29, 2020, from

WebAIM. (2019, August/September). Screen Reader User Survey #8 Results. Retrieved September 29, 2020, from

Doctorow, C. (2013). Homeland. New York: Tom Doherty Associates.

Cheney-Lippold, J. (2019). We are data algorithms and the making of our digital selves. New York: New York University Press.

MD State Library LBPH (Director). (2017, November 17). Navigating Web Pages with JAWS [Video file]. Retrieved September 26, 2020, from

NvAccessLimited. (2019, June 19). What is NVDA? Retrieved September 26, 2020, from