The digital divide isn’t always about money or age. Physical ability is often overlooked in the discussion, though it can make the difference in whether a teen can access the digital resources your library provides. It wasn’t until stumbling upon the article “As Personal Technology Explodes, Deaf and Blind People Feel Left Behind” that I thought about the effect that moving toward streaming, online multimedia and mobile devices can have on deaf and blind teens, as well as other teens with disabilities.
For deaf teens, a library podcast means nothing without a transcript, and book trailer can be unintelligible without closed captioning. Blind teens won’t be able to find links embedded in flash, images, or DHTML if their screen readers or accessible browser can’t find them. Teens lacking in certain motor skills may struggle to click inside small text boxes or navigate drop-down menus. It’s important we don’t leapfrog these teens as we introduce exciting new services and content to our patrons.
If you want to learn more about how you can make your digital services more accessible without compromising any of the exciting gains in digital technology, you can visit the Web Accessibility Initiative. For issues related to gaming, check out the Game Accessibility Project or work with teens to build their own games through the Audio Game Maker, a free program that helps visually-impaired people make their own accessible video games.
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Teen