Sometimes a new website or resource comes along and you just think “this is just perfect”! I remember thinking that the first time I looked at the Vital Tech website. Well designed (in every way), easy to navigate and filled with useful, well-thought-out and researched content – it’s just a delight to interact with.
So what is it?
Well, on the home page, the site offers a fairly concise explanation itself:
“Vital Tech is your guide through the world of assistive tech. Our site is managed by blind and partially sighted people, for blind and partially sighted people. Browse our themes for guidance and instructional videos on all things tech. We like to keep things simple and easy to understand.”www.vitaltech.org.uk
Led by the Thomas Pocklington Trust, Vital Tech is the one-stop guide to life-enhancing technology. The site is packed full of information covering the low tech to the high tech, delivering solutions for people with varying levels of experience of using technology.
This website was developed by people with vision impairments, after months of research not just into what technology is available but also how best to present this on a website in an intuitive and easy to follow way.
So what makes it so good?
I spend a lot of time encouraging people to make their websites more accessible, to consider accessibility in the very first stages of web development. I created an entire toolkit on inclusive design during my time working for SCOVI, and it’s fantastic to see such an excellent example of a good looking, accessible website.
Technicalities aside, you don’t need to know anything about clean coding, page structures or alt text to realise that this is a well-made website. It’s just so easy to interact with.
You don’t have to go scrolling through pages and pages of titles or headlines to find what you’re looking for, on the home-page you are offered buttons representing different themes. For example, “Staying in touch”, “Health and wellbeing” and “Jobs around the house”. Within these themes there are subcategories detailing what technologies are available that could offer assistance or simply enhance the user experience. This intuitive method of directing the user to what they’re looking for makes the site much easier to navigate, and means you can discover new technologies you may never think to go looking for.
Not just the new and the shiny
One of the things I like most about this site is, it doesn’t just focus on shiny new iPhone Apps or advanced technologies. Sometimes the simplest technology is the most effective. In the “jobs around the house” section, under kitchen appliances you’ll find information about liquid level indicators, the wonderfully simple battery operated devices which vibrate audibly when liquid reaches a certain level. Right next to this there’s info about slowcookers that can be controlled via mobile phone applications, just to make sure tech lovers are well catered for too (pardon the pun).
Alongside the easy to navigate archive of assistive technologies there are also several video tutorials, at the moment all relating to using the Voiceover features on an iPhone. These videos are developed as audio tutorials that happen to have pictures to go along with them, so there’s no need for a voiceover. These videos are made by people with vision impairments who use these features on a daily basis and are therefore clear and concise and may offer some tips and tricks learnt from constant use.
The Vital Tech website is a fantastic resource for people with vision impairments, and for their friends and family. I hope that the site continues to develop its video tutorials and look forward to watching it expand as more and more technological innovations are developed.