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eBay launches online shopping for visually impaired

21 September 2010 - 13:33 by Paul Tissington

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People who suffer from visual impairments will find that their online shopping experience has just got that little bit easier, as auction site eBay has announced the arrival of its user friendly site updates which make its platform more accessible to the blind.

For the time being this is only being rolled out across its US site and, at the moment, the site has not said when European and UK consumers will be able to receive the same benefits. But if it is a success there will no doubt be high demand for this sensible move on an international level.

There are already other major online retailers offering safe shopping online to those who are not as able to use the standard visual platforms as other consumers. Amazon and Apple have both optimised their sites to be compatible with screen access reader technology, which allows a visually impaired user to enjoy the best of the web by using a program to interpret the text on a web page as speech.

Amazon first began optimising its site for the blind nine years ago and various high street stores and supermarkets have followed suit. As well as text-to-speech technology, the websites have to be compatible with keyboard-only navigation methods, as a mouse is not something that a blind person is able to use.

eBay has made its recent alterations in partnership with the American National Federation for the Blind and it will now enable those with visual impairments to sell their own items or bid on products being sold by others, with security and safe shopping online assured. eBay even suggests that they will be able to set up their own retail businesses using the new tools, which would be a bold move towards independence for many.