Feb 2, 2009

Beauty vs. Barriers

With so little functional vision left the web has its limits for me. All the backgrounds, graphic buttons, Flash and fixed font sizes that make your design experience lovely render sites unusable for me. As a business decision when we set up aopstudios I commanded my web developer make the entire site accessible to screen readers and the outcome is black text on white background, a very retro, 1990s look.

Friends would gently ask, nudge and encourage "improvements," but I want the site to work for as many physical disabilities as possible. Access isn't an easy feat. A ramp to the door means nothing to a deaf person and a sign with an arrow doesn't offer guidance to a blind person. So although I understand that optimizing access gets really elemental, I also wanted a site that everyone could use.

Then I got the final, fateful nudge. In an email exchange with an artist who's a quad (and uses a silver dot on his forehead combined with an IR sensor to track his head movement so he can use a computer) he asked, "Hey, are you going to do something about that web site or is it supposed to look like that?"

Now Jen and Dean have been working to beautify and improve aopstudios. Maintaining a link to the screen reader accessible content and with its new consumer look and eComm component we'll be able to quell that haunting question, "... is it supposed to look like that?"

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