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Internet Use - A Personal Experience

Elizabeth P. Dixon



Forward by Mike Burks

Below is a short paper by one of the Advisory Board Members at ICDRI.  It is short and to the point about some of the issues faced by people with disabilities who use the Internet.  It puts it in simple terms that all of us can clearly understand.  The Center would like to thank Betsy Dixon who wrote this for the opportunity to publish it.  If you have questions or comments please sent them to icdri@icdri.org 

The Internet has opened up new vistas for people with disabilities. From research to sharing experiences to online shopping, all have been made easier (or sometimes even possible) for people with a variety of disabilities that may, in some cases, limit mobility or other functionality. This being said, the Internet is not the panacea we expected and hoped for. People who are deaf have had trouble getting real time assistance over the phone when something wonít work. People who are blind have compatibility issues with browsers, web sites and screen readers. And people with vision impairments have their own set of challenges.

Personally, I have a severe vision impairment that requires the use of magnification software to access any program on the computer. The nature of my disability also makes it necessary for me to move text/graphics past my eye rather than run my eye over text. Software which scrolls the text in this manner is helpful, but gets bogged down when it encounters what I believe is called a ďfly outĒ menu - something that continually changes when the pointer or cursor gets anywhere near it. Anything that flashes, to draw the attention of the average Internet user, certainly draws the attention of my software; every time it changes my software draws it focus back to the changing object. Chat groups are impossible because the material goes by too fast, and letís not even get into the subject of training. Everything I know about computers and Internet use (and it isnít much) Iíve had to learn on my own.

So, while the Internet can be a boon to people with disabilities, care must be taken to ensure that it remains accessible. This is the responsibility of web site designers, developers of assistive technology and individuals who must make their problems/concerns/needs known.

Copyright © Elizabeth P. Dixon 2002



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