Web Search Tool for Students with Visual Impairments

Students at my high school who are blind or have visual impairments are using screen access software that translates information on the screen into synthesized speech or Braille. However, when they surf the Web, the sites they find often have so much information that it’s exhausting for them to locate what they really need. Is there a search strategy we could teach them that would help?

Google recently released a new tool called Accessible Web Search for the Visually Impaired. The idea behind Accessible Search is to make Internet searches more productive for blind or visually impaired users. Google staff is working with several organizations to determine the criteria used by this tool. Currently results are based on the page’s simplicity including the number of images and how easily it can be navigated using keystrokes. I suspect that this tool might also be helpful for those students who do not have visual impairments, but have difficulty dealing with too many visual distracters.

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