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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Mobile Sites Make the Internet Accessible

Mobile websites have had the unintended consequence of making the internet more accessible to screen reader users. For context, the webpages of large organizations can be complex and confusing for screen reading applications such as JAWS, Window Eyes, NVDA etc. They are non-linear, filled with graphics and advertisements, have popups, etc. However, many of these large organizations have a mobile website designed for designed for cellular telephones.

These sites, while designed for cell phones, can be viewed on a standard computer. Why is this important?

Mobile sites are universal design in reverse. While they were created for the benefit of a sighted population, they are advantageous to the blind community and other screen reader users. They bring webpages back to their fundamentals. They are clean HTML, in liner format, that can be read with greater ease by screen readers.

The best part is, because these are used by a large number of major organizations, if you are having trouble viewing a standard site of such a group, try typing m and a period before that group’s standard web address.

For example, the Washington Post is typical of large media organization’s websites. The Home Page is very crowed and difficult to navigate for screen readers. Instead of typing washingtonpost.com type m.washingtonpost.com.

While the Post’s mobile site is one good example, there are ton’s more. Linked to the blog is a list of mobile sites you can access. In addition, here are some of my favorites:

  • Yahoo

    Yahoo’s mobile site is making me reconsider teaching Gmail . It is much simpler to navigate than their standard page. You can use Yahoo to search the web, get the latest headlines, email and more

    m.yahoo.com

  • Foodler

    You can use Foodler to search and order from nearby delivery places in your area. Contains menus of the restaurants and prices.

    m.foodler.com

  • The Washington Post

    Good listing of national and local news. Very well structured for screen readers with few, but well placed headings.

    m.washingtonpost.com

  • Facebook

    In their accessibility statement, Facebook makes the point to include its mobile site as an accessible option for screen reader users. And many screen reader users already use it

    m.facebook.com

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