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I would like to understand how blind people read this forum and what should we do to make it more friendly to them. Is there a simple guide or write up on this subject?

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    $\begingroup$ Good question, but better on Meta? $\endgroup$
    – Nick Cox
    Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 16:48
  • $\begingroup$ But blind people don't go there $\endgroup$
    – Aksakal
    Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 17:03
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    $\begingroup$ (1) How do you know that? (2) Regardless, questions about use of the forum belong in Meta, I think. $\endgroup$
    – Nick Cox
    Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 17:10
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    $\begingroup$ Pertinent thread: stats.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1072/… Not the main question, however. $\endgroup$
    – Nick Cox
    Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 17:47
  • $\begingroup$ Do blind people in general use the internet? If yes, how can they do it? How can you build a "blind-friendly" homepage? $\endgroup$
    – Ferdi
    Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 18:01
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    $\begingroup$ @Ferdi, they definitely use internet and read math on it, but I don't know what's most convenient way of doing it. $\endgroup$
    – Aksakal
    Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 18:05
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    $\begingroup$ One simple thing is to always use text not copy in an image and then screen reading software has a chance. $\endgroup$
    – mdewey
    Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 20:25
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    $\begingroup$ We have at least one active blind user: stats.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3175/…. Hopefully they will comment. $\endgroup$
    – amoeba
    Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 21:19
  • $\begingroup$ Some relevant issues raised here $\endgroup$
    – Glen_b
    Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 22:05
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    $\begingroup$ The data analysis is so heavily dependent on visuals, simple things like qq plots etc. Maybe we need to develop non visual methods more $\endgroup$
    – Aksakal
    Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 22:09
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    $\begingroup$ @Aksakal A qqplot could easily be rendered in sound. Hmmmm, may be time to build that. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 3:15
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    $\begingroup$ @MatthewDrury, i'd like to hear qqplot. no idea how it would sound $\endgroup$
    – Aksakal
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 3:47
  • $\begingroup$ A couple of links that raise relevant issues Statistical Software from a Blind Person’s Perspective (A. Jonathan R. Godfrey, The R Journal, 2013) and Statistical Software (R, SAS, SPSS, and Minitab) for Blind Students and Practitioners (A. Jonathan R. Godfrey & M. Theodor Loots, Journal of Statistical Software, 2014) $\endgroup$
    – Glen_b
    Commented Sep 2, 2017 at 21:16

2 Answers 2

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I'm not literally blind, but I'm legally blind, with corrected acuity on the order of 20/200. My condition could be more informatively described as "low vision". So I'm just as dependent on my vision as a normally sighted person, but I can answer your question to some extent.

The most important rule is that text should be text. That is, don't use images of text when you could use real text, or at least accompany the image with a transcript or alt-text. For mathematical notation, use MathJax. The advantage here for the visually impaired is that real text, unlike images, can be enlarged without loss of quality, reflowed (trying to read a paragraph that requires horizontal scrolling will drive sane men mad), and read with text-to-speech or a refreshable Braille display. Unrelatedly to accessibility, but perhaps more importantly, text is more useful for software: it can be searched, indexed, and translated; it can be transmitted more easily through media without image support; and it takes up less disk space.

Images are still going to be important in data analysis because of data graphics, like plots. The text-should-be-text rule doesn't get you far here because tick labels etc. aren't very useful to somebody who can't see the image. But I can still make suggestions to help make images legible to the visually impaired. Aim for high contrast (e.g., use black text on white rather than gray text on white or colored text). Avoid color combinations that will run afoul of the most common types of color-blindness (ideally, plots should be legible in grayscale, for the sake of grayscale screens and printouts). Avoid unwanted moiré effects from tightly packed parallel stripes. Edward Tufte's Visual Display of Quantitative Information advocates a sparse visual style that in general makes plots more accessible to the visually impaired, although it doesn't pursue accessibility deliberately.

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    $\begingroup$ So are the formulae here in latex accessible? $\endgroup$
    – Aksakal
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 0:08
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    $\begingroup$ @Aksakal I think so, yes. They can be zoomed, and if you're literally blind or have JavaScript off, you can fall back on the raw LaTeX. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 0:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Aksakal, if you're already accustomed to $\LaTeX$ before you went blind, you should be able to parse most expressions unrendered. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 27, 2017 at 5:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Kodiologist: Not to impose, of course, but if you had any feedback on the new site theme it could be very useful: stats.meta.stackexchange.com/q/5441/17230 $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 14:06
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This is mostly an addendum to @Kodiologist's enlightening answer.

I suggest downloading and installing an app that simulates different types of color impairment, and then running your visualizations through it to make sure everyone can enjoy them. This is obviously especially important if you are using color to communicate information in your picture.

I'm on a mac at home and work, and I use Color Oracle which is simple and non-invasive. If anyone else has recommendations, especially for other platforms, please leave them in the comments and I'll edit them into the answer.

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    $\begingroup$ There is at least one R package dichromat which, from its description, "Collapse red-green or green-blue distinctions to simulate the effects of different types of color-blindness." $\endgroup$
    – mdewey
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 12:12
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    $\begingroup$ Here is the link CRAN.R-project.org/package=dichromat forgot last time. $\endgroup$
    – mdewey
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 12:33

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