[Athen] AutoCad & Visually Impaired Student

Chagnon | PubCom chagnon at pubcom.com
Wed Mar 15 12:28:05 PDT 2017

Speaking as someone with a degree in architecture who used to teach AutoCad,
who is also a graphic designer who teaches Adobe InDesign, and who is also a

I don't think it's possible for someone who is blind to fully be able to use
a program like AutoCad (same goes for graphic design software, such as Adobe
InDesign). The problem is not just JAWS and Autocad. It's the nature of the
products being designed. These programs are used to create products that are
dependent upon how their components come together, intersect, and work with
each other and right now, that is all visual information that can't be
interpreted by any software.

Maybe someday in the future that capability will be developed, somewhat
similar to how driverless cars are now being developed and blind passengers
will be able to operate them as well as sighted passengers. But for programs
like AutoCad and InDesign, we're not there yet in the software industry.

I always feel crappy when a blind or low-vision conference attendee is in my
accessible InDesign sessions because I have to tell them that we don't have
software that's accessible for them. Although people with other disabilities
can learn to use this type of visual design software, we're a long way off
from having tools that blind people can use to "see" what they are
designing. (Although I do encourage everyone to take my class because
they'll get a better understanding of the constraints we designers have when
creating accessible documents and that in itself is invaluable.)

I believe that this is one key reason why this type of design software is
usually exempt (or partially exempt) from VPAT requirements.

--Bevi Chagnon

- - -

Bevi Chagnon | <http://www.pubcom.com/> www.PubCom.com

Technologists, Consultants, Trainers, Designers, and Developers

for publishing & communication

| Acrobat PDF | Print | EPUBS | Sec. 508 Accessibility |

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From: athen-list [mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman13.u.washington.edu] On
Behalf Of Despins, Nicole
Sent: Wednesday, March 15, 2017 1:28 PM
To: athen-list at u.washington.edu <mailto:athen-list at u.washington.edu>
Subject: [Athen] AutoCad & Visually Impaired Student

Does anyone have any experience working with a blind student using AutoCad?
I am working with a blind student who is taking an Intro to Engineering
class and having a lot of trouble with AutoCad accessibility. On AutoCad's
VPAT it states that the software provides information to the user via the
Microsoft Active Accessibility application. The best information that I
could find was that the Microsoft Active Accessibility is now the built in
Ease of Access Center. AutoCad doesn't work with JAWS and the narrator in
the Ease of Access Center doesn't make it very accessible either. Anyone
have any experience working with a blind or visually impaired student using

Nicole Despins

Assistive Technology Specialist/Math Liaison

Diablo Valley College


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