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Accessibility Handbook by Katie Cunningham

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Chapter 3. Audio Accessibility

As browsers have grown more capable, and the average Internet user’s bandwidth has gone up, audio has become more vital to using websites. More and more websites include videos, podcasts, and use audio cues to direct users around the site. If a user is unable to hear, they might be left out of vital sections of your website.

Who Does It Cover?

Audio accessibility is more than making websites accessible for the profoundly deaf. This also covers those who are partially deaf and wear hearing aids.

Why can’t someone who has only partial hearing loss simply wear headphones? Often, hearing aids and headphones don’t mix, even when the headphones go over the ears. Also, some hearing disabled people are deaf only to certain tones, making speech difficult to parse, no matter how loud the volume is.

Additionally, a website owner can’t always assume that their users have access to a computer where they can turn the volume up. They might be in a public space where they can’t use speakers and don’t have headphones, or access to an audio jack.

As with making a site accessible to the blind, the goal to keep in mind for the hearing impaired is to make certain that no vital data is kept from users who cannot hear the audio. This might be more than offering it in text form. If your application has audio indicators, such as a bell, a visual indicator might be required as well.

Annoyances in Brief

People with a hearing disability often have difficulty with the following items: ...

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