The Ideal Design for a (Web) Site Unseen
Crafting a new solution for the Center for the Visually Impaired
Result: Atlanta’s Center for the Visually Impaired (CVI Atlanta) now has a Web site that is easily accessible to everyone who needs it – whether they have perfect eyesight or none at all. And site administrators easily manage content for both graphic and text versions of the site.
The client’s need: CVI Atlanta is Georgia’s largest comprehensive organization that provides rehabilitation services for people of all ages who are blind or visually impaired. Because some site visitors have vision and some do not, POV recommended that CVI Atlanta maintain two versions of its Web site:
- A graphic site designed for visitors with full or impaired vision
- A text-only version, which is preferred by visitors with low, or no vision and optimized for special software that reads the pages aloud
CVI Atlanta wanted the site to be easy for everyone to navigate, regardless of visual limitations. The center also needed a way to update the content of both versions simultaneously, without repeating workflow – without the typical expense and complexity of a database-driven content management system.
How we did it: First, the POV design team interviewed those with various degrees of visual impairment to better understand the day-to-day challenges they faced when using the Web. Then, they spent several days observing how they used the internet – what worked, and what didn't. Finally, the team researched the W3C Standards for Web Accessibility and Section 508 Standards to determine best practices for technology and interface design.
From there, POV redesigned CVI Atlanta's site from the ground up to better serve the needs of their audience. Designers chose high-contrast colors and big buttons, both ideal for people with low vision. They also devised a new layout to work better with Web readers, which read page content aloud in a certain order. Finally, a cost-effective content management system was implemented to allow content to be managed on both graphic and text versions of the site simultaneously.
“We designed everything, right down to the placement of the graphics and the buttons, to be friendly to the visually impaired,” explains POV’s Bob Kadrie. “That meant we had to challenge some of the usual conventions of placement on the page.
“The CVI Atlanta site is not designed to be beautiful to the seeing. It’s designed to be beautiful to the visually impaired. And it’s designed to deliver content equally to both.”
In the client's words: “The site has been great. I really love the content management tool! We started getting referrals and donations as soon as it went live.”