Developing a Diverse World


For something to be considered perceivable, a diverse group, regardless of handicap or disability, must have equal opportunities to access an object’s information. According to the WCAG, this means incorporating characteristics like text alternatives, time-based media, and distinguishability. Unfortunately, there are certain websites, like Georgia Tech’s Office of International Education, that are not perceivable. Because the most efficient method for distributing information is not accommodating, for blind and visually impaired users in particular, access is rendered exclusive.

As previously stated, the website is not completely perceivable for the visually disabled. The website does, however, contain some graphics with alternative text for screen readers to display information. It also provides some information with videos, detailing the benefits of attending Georgia Tech as an international student, and study abroad scholarships. Nevertheless, a visually disabled individual’s inability to distinguish website sections makes navigation nearly impossible. Even if distinguishability were there, lack of alternative text and sound bites would not adequately provide information for the visually impaired.



This screen shot depicts both an alternative text example (Go Global @ GT) with its accompanying image, and a video on benefits for exchange students. These are some of the very few examples of aids for the visually impaired the site currently contains.


Saying that, there are steps that, if taken, would drastically improve the OIE website’s perceivability. The addition of spearcons to the website’s directory bar would aid in the distinguishability of said major sections. In regard to the individual web pages, one could incorporate alternative text to be stated aloud when the cursor moved over a particular section. More sound bites could also be added to display the information for those who otherwise cannot read it.

“Serving the … diverse population …,” is one of the Georgia Tech OIE’s priorities in their mission statement. However, the office does not succeed in this regard through not accounting for the visually disabled. If they wish to uphold their purpose, they must account for this group.


  • Anushk Mittal

    Marcus adequately covers accessibility for blind people specifically those who have to rely on text-to-speech for navigating the website. However, the blog fails to acknowledge color blinds, who prefer to navigate websites visually rather than relying on text-to-speech interfaces. None of the suggestions increase accessibility for this largely ignored group. As specified by WCAG , users who have color-blindness benefit when information conveyed by color is available in other visual ways. I suggest evaluating all font colors and images from a color blind’s perspective to ensure integrity.

    • Nicholas Proulx

      However, what examples are there where “information [is] conveyed by color…” ? Much of the information the website has to offer comes in the form of text boxes, and images. In this case, total blindness takes priority over color blindness, as the former has far more restrictions when considering the amount of information the user would actually get. The suggestions involving spearcons and other audio cues are effective, although they never touch an equally important issue in this website: the slideshow. Not only does it scroll from image to image automatically, but each image is abstract and is almost void of text (see the above picture). For blind users, it would be virtually impossible to create a set of audio cues to represent these images, and the cue repeating each time the slide shifted would be annoying; therefore, the slideshow itself must be revised, not supported.

  • Aaron Acee

    As stated in my own blog post, I agree that the office of international education’s website is not very perceivable especially to that of a visually impaired person. There seems to be a focus on adding a lot of color and dispersing information in an unorganized fashion. For someone that is color blind, or has bad vision, the amount of color added in graphics that don’t have any value added to the website would be extremely distracting. For someone that is completely or nearly blind, navigating this website would be impossible. I also agree with the statement that adding spearcons and alternative text-to-speach options would be incredibly beneficial.

    • Caroline Akerley

      I think you make a really interesting point about how the addition of color and graphics on this website are meant to enrich the experience for seeing users, but can cause confusion and frustration for many others. Spear cons may help with this website, but i think that instead of being fixed, it needs to be redesigned entirely. It is not feasible given the issues that the website provides that it could be made accessible and still retain many of its current characteristics.

  • Parth Mandrekar

    I agree with Nicholas, the visually impaired users that Marcus is referring to are completely blind. For them to be able to see, or even see in color for that matter, is not even a slight possibility. I also think that the screen reader would not totally prevent a blind user from perceiving most of the information presented on Georgia Tech’s Office of International Education website. There is a lot of text on the screen and this can be read by the screen reader. A screen reader is capable of telling visually impaired readers where there cursor is, it can also read the screen at the location closest to the cursor ( This being said, a blind user may not be able to perceive all of the images located on the website. But he/she can definitely still produce a visual map of the website and understand where items are located, including the buttons on the top of the page designed to different pages. Being more knowledgeable about the screen reader and how it works would certainly help understand that it is an ongoing effort to help blind users perceive websites just as well as their counterparts.

    • Catherine Felix

      I was unaware of the screen reader feature on the mouse, an interesting and definitely helpful tool if you are completely blind and needed assistance navigating the website. However, I was curious as to how specifically the reader works? If it simply reads off what the mouse lands on, I would fear that the user would become quickly annoyed by the constant ramblings of the reader as to what they were scrolling over. Does it only occur if the user hesitates over a period of time on the icon/link? I was also curious as to the voice of the screen reader; is there any chance that the user can change the voice of the reader on their computer to fit what they would believe to be the best voice for them to identify with? It would make the program more malleable as well as easier to use!

  • Xin Wang

    Yes, I agree with you that the OIE website doesn’t account for the group who can’t see. And yes, they need to improve this situation. And, as a website for international students and programs, I think this website should also pay more attention to “Deaf” people. More visions in different languages of this website may be needed.

    • Graeme Sharpe

      I disagree with you that the OIE website is inadequate in reaching all groups; i would say the website is able to function and communicate its information to the deaf population and to international students. The reason i say this is because the website does not have any vital audio information that without the website would no longer be about to communicate its information so the deaf population are able to perceive the website fairly well. Also most international students that would be interested in Georgia Tech would most likely have a basic understanding of English and even if they did not google can translate web pages, although it may not be completely accurate. But the information the website offers is very difficult for the blind to access for this reason i believe the website should focus on improving this groups accessibility to the web content.

  • Chandler Thompson

    I like the idea of improving the webpage’s perceivability for the blind using spearcons, but could spearcons truly deliver enough information to fully summarize the page? Perhaps just vocal summaries for long paragraphs and spearcons for pictures or other specific features would work better, and be able to fully portray the page’s information.

    • Andrew Zhang

      I agree with you that spearcons probably would not communicate the full extent of the page, but I believe he meant spearcons should be implemented for the directory menu. As for vocal summaries for long paragraphs, I believe most blind users are able to download third party programs that are able to convert text to speech, and so as long as the website provides text, the blind user will be capable of understanding the website. Spearcons for pictures could be interesting though! Spearcons are usually supposed to represent a visual icon, but it’d be interesting to see how one could extend that to use for photographs.

  • Anum Ul-Haque

    When viewing the GT OIE website, it is easy to understand what is going on and how the page is laid out. But for a visually impaired person, it would be very difficult for them to understand the layout of the page in order to navigate through the website. WCAG ensures that the all users should be able to perceive the information that is being presented by a website, and thus must be accessible to the diverse population. Marcus is correct to say that the lack of adequate alt text and sound bites would make it more difficult for the visually impaired part of the diverse population.

  • Maya Padmalayam

    I agree with Marcus, in that the OIE website does not sufficiently accommodate for those who are visually impaired. For example, as he described, the videos are a very informative part of the website, giving information about why international students choose Georgia Tech ‘s program. However, the video has only a brief caption, and the closed captioning does not sufficiently translate what the students are saying in the video, so any type of text to speech interface would not be able to translate. In addition, there are many images on this page, which link to a Facebook page rather than a description, which would also be hard for a screen reader to output.

Leave a Reply