The principal volunteer for the Accessibility 2.0 study was 62-year-old John Allnutt, a retired research worker who lives in Colington, on the Sussex coast. met John, who is married, through the East Sussex Association for the Blind. He has a congenital disease called bilateral retina blastoma, a form of cancer on his retinas that has meant he has been blind for most of his life.

Medical work in the 1940s restored a little of his sight, enough to walk around unaided but not to read and write, enabling him to attended special schools and use Braille. However, his sight became progressively worse and 10 years ago he became completely blind.

As an experienced user of JAWS (version 3.7) screen reading technology and Internet Explorer version 6, John has already set himself apart from many other visually impaired and blind people who find using this technology a barrier to accessing information on the internet.

He uses the internet for banking, looking up train times and is a regular Google and BBC News user.

JAWS enables John to navigate his computer by speaking the text to him and notifying him of links. John uses shortcuts built into the technology to jump between links and enable him to quickly find his way round sites.

"I'd naturally go to the radio for my news, I might possibly go to the BBC news website as well. There's a talking newspaper in this area, which is ok, but it comes down to the quality of your local newspaper anyway," John told

"I haven't seen talking newspapers for national newspapers. The problem is that there's just so much national news to cover. The talking newspapers tend to come out weekly, they're about the length of a C90 cassette and they just go through the main stories."

So, for something a little deeper, John has to go to online news sources, using BBC News24 and getting audio bulletins, but newspaper sites are not somewhere he had spent a great deal of surfing time until he agreed to undertake this study.

To aid and augment the assessment by John, we asked some young people with visual impairment to offer their thoughts. Pupils at Dorton College were good enough to offer their time and consideration.

Josh Pinnell, 17, is in his first year at Dorton College studying for a BTEC diploma in applied science.

He was left partially sighted after the vision in his right eye completely deteriorated. He uses magnification software ZoomText for surfing the internet.

Charlotte West, 18, is in her final year studying for a BTEC diploma in business studies. Charlotte's impairment means she finds it very difficult to process visual information; she doesn't use any screen reading or magnification technology to help her access the internet.

Our final student is Rosie Johnson, 19, who is studying for A-levels in sociology and critical thinking. Rosie is completely blind and uses screen reading technology JAWS to surf the web.

Finally, our technical expert is Richard Warren, the technical manager at Userite, an independent service to help website developers make their sites accessible and usable for the widest possible audience.

Richard has been involved in a number of EU research projects and reports looking at the potential impacts of new technology.

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