Access to media and information has become critical in our daily lives. As the Internet grows exponentially and becomes more accessible in Thailand (23.86 million Internet users in 2013, according to TrueHits), more people are expected to use ICT to communicate with others, participate in society and do business. However, inequalities and digital divides are still very strong, particularly among the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups.
Web accessibility, the ability for an individual to access information and content online, becomes an important issue when it comes to the visually impaired. Since the majority of web designers do not follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), most of online content is still inaccessible to this group of people. In addition, the high costs and the lack of screen reading software that reads the content on the page in a synthesized voice or magnifies content for easier viewing, have excluded the majority of visually impaired people from accessing web content.
Recognizing the importance of creating websites that are fully functional for all people, sighted or visually impaired, CCDKM, with the support of the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) in Thailand, the Asia-Pacific Telecentre Netowrk (APTN) and New Media4D, organized and delivered in March 2014 a training on website development and Joomla software for visually impaired students.
During the workshop that took place at the Pattaya School for the Blind in Chonburi, 30 students have been trained on basic knowledge of content management system (CMS), fundamental principles of website development using Joomla software, promoting websites through Search Engine Optimization (SEA) strategies, the Computer Crime Act B.E. 2550 (2007) and the implications of freely expressing their views and opinions online.
“I never had the chance to learn about website development in my school. I now realize how important it is to create my own website not only for my future career but also to share information and communicate with others”, said Bank, one of the trainees.
Both sighted and visually impaired web designers play an important role in improving visually impaired people’s access and use of information on the web. Creating, accessing, using and sharing information and knowledge must not be a privilege of the few. It is a fundamental human right.