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Web Design for the Hearing Impaired

written by: Summer Banks•edited by: Robin L.•updated: 11/18/2008

Are you hard of hearing? Do you have trouble hearing the words in a video online? Web development design options for the hearing impaired provide a welcome connection between disabilities and web design.

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    Ensuring that there are alternative accessibility to the audio files not only helps people with hearing problems, but is also of good use for people who for varying reasons have inaudible or no sound at all in their computers. The setting could even be a noisy place, which makes it difficult to listen to audio from the computer. Some computers do not have inbuilt speakers and if a person has no desktop speakers, they cannot access the audio. The key principles to ensure accessibility and ease of use when designing websites for users who are hearing impaired are:

    Captioning Video Content

    The video content should be captioned and synchronized with the audio. This ensures that the users fully understand the content despite the fact that they miss the audio. Video captions can also be helpful to people who have trouble understanding your audio due to poor playback on dial up Internet lines.

    Provide Text Translations of the Spoken Word

    Where content is published without the use of video, the designer should ensure that text translation of the same is provided to the hearing-impaired users. To ensure that the highest number of people possible access the text, the designer should not useMS Word or PDF documents. The translations should be written in HTML code.

    Consider the use of American Sign Language in Multimedia

    American Sign Language users in America alone range from a half million people to 2 million people. In Britain, the number of sign language users is between fifty thousand to seventy thousand people. Investigating the prospect of using sign language for the provision of multimedia content, would assist the users in understanding the content even better, and would serve beneficial by increasing the number of hearing impaired people who would gain benefit from your message.

    Not every Internet user has the ability to hear the words you are trying to say. With the popularity of video and spoken multimedia being added to websites, the hearing impaired visitor will find great benefit from adding a few or all of these text or visually based versions of your audio on the site.

Disabilities and Web Design

Not every Internet user has the same browsing abilities. Some users need special consideration when viewing websites based on physical disabilities.
  1. Disabilities and Web Design - Overview of a Web Development Series
  2. Web Design for the Hearing Impaired
  3. Web Design and Learning and Cognitive Disabilities
  4. Web Design for Physical Disabilities
  5. Web Design and Vision Impairment