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Assistive Technologies for Blind & Low Vision Employees


A blind worker listens to a speech synthesizer on her laptop via headphones

In our recent tip sheet from AccessATE and DeafTEC, we discussed accommodation and safety recommendations for employees who are blind or have low vision. The tip sheet briefly mentions that possible accommodations for blind/low vision workers are assistive technologies. Here, we’ll dive further into what some of those options are, and how they might be used.

Tip Sheet: Workplace Accommodations & Safety for Blind & Low Vision Employees

Many people are at least somewhat familiar with service dogs and canes for blind/low vision people, both of which are a type of mobility aid. Service dogs are trained to assist with specific tasks, such as guidance, locating and obtaining objects, alerting to obstacles and emergencies, and more. Service dogs are allowed anywhere the public is allowed, in accordance with the ADA. Some blind/low vision people learn to use a cane, which they tap or sweep along the ground in front of them to identify information like distance, texture, size, obstacles, and more. If a blind/low vision employee uses a cane, coworkers should be aware that the employee will need a little extra space around them to best utilize it. Another type of mobility aid is ...

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Reducing Disruptive Noise in the Workplace


A woman covers her ears, appearing distressed due to the noise around her

Many of us are familiar with how disruptive noisy workplaces can be. Excess noise can make it difficult to focus on and complete tasks, hear one another, and in some cases, can even affect mental and physical health. Excess sound, or a lack of sound privacy, can also be a major drain on employee morale. Crucially, employees with disabilities can be affected by noisy work environments far more than those without. Noise can be particularly problematic for deaf or hard-of-hearing (HH) people, people with blindness or low vision, those with conditions like Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Here, we’ll go into further detail on how noise can be disruptive for these disabilities, and how to address these issues in the workplace.

A previous tip sheet and post on deafness/HH mentioned that many deaf/HH people actually do have some level of hearing, but the sounds they hear can seem very quiet or muffled. As such, excess noise can be a great interference, as it makes important sounds harder to hear or understand, or unable to be heard or understood at all. Additionally, those who use...

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Making Your ATE Presentations Accessible for Everyone


Four seated people watch a woman give a presentation

Most of us in the ATE community have to do a variety of presentations each year, from informal talks for colleagues at a brown bag lunch or on a Zoom call, to more formal presentations for a webinar or at a conference. And now during the pandemic, we find ourselves needing to give a lot of these presentations online, which adds its own set of technical challenges on top of those we already face when we present. Regardless of the content or platform, it’s important that our efforts be made accessible, in order to reach as many people as possible.

Tip Sheet: Creating Accessible Presentations 

In thinking about the guidance provided in the tip sheet from the National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) and AccessATE, it may good to consider that presentations can be essentially divided into two types: in-person and online. When presenting in person, there are physical accessibility factors to consider that have nothing to do with the content of the presentation itself. Whenever possible, it’s best to scope out the location of in-person events in advance. Consider the lighting and layout of the space; screen projections can be difficult to view if the room is too bright. On the...

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Best Practices for Alternate Text


A person on a laptop codes in alt text for a photo of a tree

In our most recent tip sheet from AccessATE and DeafTEC, we go over various tips for improving workplace communication for blind and low vision employees. The tip sheet mentions adding descriptive or alternative text for photos, charts, and graphs, which we’ve also touched on in a previous tip sheet and blog post. Here, we’ll dive into more detail about best practices for crafting and adding alternative (alt) text, both for electronic documents and online.

Tip Sheet: Workplace Communication for Blind & Low Vision Employees

Alt text, sometimes called alternate text, descriptive text, or alternative text, is text that supplements an element, such as an image, or substitutes for it if it cannot be rendered. It’s what screen readers will use to convey information about an image to a blind/low vision user. The webpage version of this is the HTML “alt” attribute, which you have likely encountered before without realizing it, as the use of alt attribute has become increasingly common in coding. One does not always need to know how to code to use it, as many programs and webpages have interfaces that allow you to set alt attribute values by simply filling out a text field. It’s...

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