Visually impaired deprived of access to web

Kathmandu, August 24

Visually impaired people have a hard time fetching information from the internet due to lack of accessible websites.

Sushil Adhikari, vice-president of Sangai Hami, said most of Nepali government websites are inaccessible. The screen reader software doesn’t read out Nepali websites to guide the visually impaired to navigate different kinds of website tools.

“The activated screen reader does not read out Nepali websites, social networks, online news portals, videos, and blogs that are written in the Nepali font,” said Adhikari.

NVDA, Serotek System Access, Apple Voice Over, ORCA, BRLTTY, Emacspeak, WebAnywhere, Spoken Web, ChromeVox, and ChromeVis are popular screen reader software that can be used by the visually-impaired to access websites, browsers, and blogs written in English.

Some of the websites of the government as well as other organisations have been developed both in English and Nepali versions.

The screen readers read out the English websites for the literate visually-impaired who are familiar with the English language. “I avoid the Nepali version as the screen readers can’t guide me audibly. Thankfully, I am educated enough to understand English, so I navigate the English version,” he said.

Visually impaired Radhika Lama, 46, of Boudha is unaware about such accessible websites. She has been relying on her friends and relatives to access internet. “As I cannot use the websites on my own, my friends help me post text messages, pictures and videos, among others on Facebook and Youtube,” she said.

Aayush Shrestha, Chief of Design at nLocate, said there was no software that could read Nepali websites for the visually impaired. Nepali software developers are yet to come up with a screen reader that can read out Nepali fonts for the visually impaired.