I am not sure how many tech practitioners out there in blog land have taught web design to the blind and visually impaired but for those who have considered it I will relate my experiences. I showed up at the beginning of the school one year and the administrators had decided that a class in Web design would be a class offering; of course they had not consulted me previously because teaching and learning are always the presumption in class offerings, regardless of viability, right? …So, I not only had the formidable task of designing a curriculum in Web Design for the blind and visually impaired in real time, I also had little time to accomplish this.
After some research, I found a curriculum and course sequence at Code High School (www.codehs.com) who graciously offered their course at no charge, albeit with reduced features. Using this curriculum as a guide, I painstakingly modified the lessons to accommodate my students with screen readers and Braille. The open source HTML editor, Arachnophilia, was chosen due to its minimal options and compatibility with screen readers. Arachnophilia also allowed for a split screen that would preview the code and the actual HTML page simultaneously, a very useful feature for a teacher to observe and describe to students the results of their coding. (A caveat: a modification to the screen reader we used, JAWS, had to be done in the JAWS options menu to make its descriptions less verbose, particularly when placing links in our Webpages). Once a familiarity was established with HTML, several students opted to use Windows Notepad to code due to its simpler interface.
This course not only gave students the confidence to write basic HTML code, it also gave them the capability of understanding how Web pages are built and formatted, which improved their confidence and facility with using Web pages. An example of student work from these classes appear on this blog post and in subsequent posts I hope to delve more deeply into techniques that worked for me and my students, including enabling the ability of blind students to predict and discern Web page colors and shading with some accuracy.
By George Thompson