This is an unpublished draft preview that might include content that is not yet approved. The published website is at

Ilya, senior accountant who is blind in Stories of Web Users, How People with Disabilities Use the Web

Note: This user story is an example of a person with this type of disability. Other people with this disability may have different experiences.

About Ilya

My mobile phone is so convenient - the accessibility features on it are so easy to use. Shame I can’t access our corporate systems with it!

Ilya is blind. She is a senior accountant at an insurance company that uses web-based documents and forms over a corporate intranet. Ilya’s work computer has a screen reader which provides her with information on the state and content of applications on her computer in a speech output form. Because of her job, Ilya spends a lot of time working with spreadsheets, presentations and documents. Her company moved from using desktop applications to everything being stored online. Ilya was concerned that the change would make things worse for her.

Complex web applications are often challenging for Ilya. Many have multiple layers of navigation and require users to cross-reference content. This is more difficult to do with a screen reader which reads back content in a linear fashion. Sometimes they use short-cut keys that are the same as the quick keys used by the screen reader software. So far everything seems to work well though and it is the usual problems of colleagues not creating their documents with accessibility in mind, for example, presentations that don’t include text alternatives for images.

Part of Ilya’s role is to provide training to employees. Most of this is conducted online as staff are spread out geographically. Ilya and her staff evaluated a number of training tools, such as video conferencing apps, before finding an effective application with accessibility features that meet the needs of a diverse staff with diverse abilities. One of the biggest challenges Ilya faced with these tools was the chat function. Many of the tools don’t work with Ilya’s screen reader. She would miss messages during meetings because the software didn’t make her aware when a new message was delivered.

Outside of work, Ilya enjoys cooking, knitting, and travel, and she uses the web to find recipes, knitting patterns, and to book travel. She has found that online communities help her generate ideas that support all of her hobbies. Generally these are great but some of them use a visual CAPTCHA as part of the login process, making it impossible for her to access the forums without someone to assist her.

When she can, Ilya uses her mobile phone or tablet more than she uses her laptop or desktop computer. The phone and tablet have built-in screen readers that make them much easier for her to use. Using her mobile while travelling is fantastic as she can check location details and find directions.

Barrier examples

Good use of headings
Problem: “I can’t easily scan a page to find things that might be of interest to me.”
Works well: “When sites are laid out using properly marked up headings and paragraphs, I can use hot keys in my screen reader to quickly jump from one heading or paragraph to another, stopping at anything that sounds interesting.”
Keyboard navigation
Problem: “Sometimes I can’t control things on websites such as buttons and links. I can hear they are there but I can’t press them.”
Works well: “When I can use the keyboard to navigate to things and press return to select them without having to get someone to help me.”
Consistent layout
Problem: “I need to create a mental image of how a website is laid out. If that changes from page to page then it really slows me down.”
Works well: “When website pages are consistent. The links are all in the same place and things that sound the same in my screen reader behave the same on different pages.”
Clear error messages
Problem: “Sometimes when I fill in a form on a website it won’t let me submit it and it isn’t clear why not.”
Works well: “Sites which have clear error messages and instructions on how to correct my mistake.”
Changes elsewhere on a page
Problem: “There are times when content on a website changes but I don’t always know about it.”
Works well: “It’s great when my screen reader alerts me to changes on the page that I’m visiting.”
Keyboard trap
Problem: “Some sites have modal windows that I can get stuck in because I can’t seem to find anyway to close it.”
Works well: “Modal windows include a close and/or cancel button that can be accessed with the keyboard.”

Assistive technologies and adaptive strategies used

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This is an unpublished draft preview that might include content that is not yet approved. The published website is at