HighEdWeb2008 Conference: Infinite Solutions

Session Details

Internet Evolution Through the Eyes of a Deaf User and Web Professional

UAD1 Usability, Accessibility, and Design Track

Plaster Student Union Traywick Parliamentary Room


The Internet has been called the "great equalizer" because it breaks down the barriers people with disabilities face and makes them more independent. However, many non-disabled people don't realize this great potential when it comes to Web development. It is estimated that 97% of websites are inaccessible; this despite the fact that about 20% of the U.S. population and about 10% of the world population have some sort of disability. Some sites have no image descriptions for blind people, no key access for those who can't use a mouse, no captioning or transcripts of video and audio files for deaf and hard of hearing people.

Accessible websites also award their owners. As programmer Karsten Self has said: "Google is, for all intents, a blind user. A billionaire blind user with tens of millions of friends, all of whom hang on his every word." To add to this, Google is deaf, too, since it can't "hear" video and audio files. It means that if your website has some sort of text version of these files, it would be ranked higher in search engine results.

This presentation will help the audience to better understand how people with disabilities use the internet and what can be done to solve accessibility issues. I will also share my personal experience as an individual with hearing loss.


Svetlana Kouznetsova
Web Designer/Developer, Lehman College

Svetlana is a NYC-based Web professional with a BFA in graphic design, an M.S. in Internet technology, and over five years of project experience with national/international companies and non-profit/educational institutions. Her main areas of interest are usability, accessibility, front-end design/coding based on the latest Web standards.