Student Nelson Otieno Champions Accessible Website
By Carolyn Ngondi | Lead Computer Instructor
Nelson , a totally blind student in the inABLE Computer-Lab-for-the-Blind program, has all it takes to become a computer professional. He’s a very humble and quiet boy in class, but also very attentive and intelligent. He is always among the top students in his class.
Nelson has something in him that many may not see or imagine. One day as I taught some other students research skills, Nelson came in and requested to attend. I explained that the lesson was nearly complete. He asked to stay so that he might learn something about research in the time remaining. His eagerness to learn has no boundaries; neither time nor new learning topics deter his self-driven progress. Nelson learned about assistive technology through his own research on the Internet and can now quickly determine if a website is accessible to blind or visually impaired visitors or not.
Nelson showcased his computer skills by demonstrating how different web pages on particular websites sites are not accessible to the visually impaired and this really amazed and challenged the website programmers. You can imagine the surprised reaction when a student thoughtfully challenged experts in programming; he became an admired champion for improved Internet accessibility for the blind.
This advocacy and information exchange has given Nelson more passion to improve accessibility. It motivates him to learn more so that blind people like him can more easily access digital materials from the Internet, without having to depend on the sited individuals.
Nelson’s accessibility mission in Kenya is really a global issue. As confirmed on the website of the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB): “Not every website, however, is optimally designed for use by web surfers with visual impairments. When a website is built without regard to proper web design, they become inaccessible by people with vision loss who use access technology.” The Web Access Initiative (WAI) has posted accessible website design guidelines.
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