From keyboard to fretboard, Tyler Williams helps people listen

Tyler Williams

It’s not widely known that a website is considered a public forum that is required by the Americans with Disabilities Act to ensure access by vision- and hearing-impaired people.

Nor is it widely known that a blind bluegrass musician and singer from Central Ohio has been helping web designers reach that accessibility goal for several years.

But Tyler Williams ( is a man of many talents.

Web Chick has been stressing the importance of accessibility to clients and blog readers. When Tyler returned to Central Ohio in 2020 after living in Tennessee for 16 years, he sought work testing website accessibility, which he’d been doing in Tennessee. He connected with Web Chick and has been working with her ever since. Some people and companies try to use technology to test whether their web designs will fully serve blind users, but many do not pass the Tyler Test.

“This the 21st century – the robot age – but I’m here to tell you about things that machines can’t do accurately,” Tyler says. “You need the human touch.”

He uses Job Access with Speech – JAWS – a computer screen-reader program that can convert words on the screen to voice or Braille. The program was developed in the late 1980s and Tyler has used it since 1999 and prefers it to other programs.

“Anything you do with a mouse, I’m doing with keystrokes, he says. “It helps me navigate websites – it tells you the different keystrokes you’re using.”

Every week, Web Chick sends him a list of websites to check. Tyler checks to make sure links on the site properly direct him to accessible information. “If you really want to check for compliance, you have to get a blind person to do it.” In other words, if a computer-savvy, vision-impaired user can’t navigate the site, it’s not accessible.

“If you have the proper codes and you can make that website accessible, that’s what you’re shooting for,” he says.

When Tyler assesses websites, he works with JAWS, Zoom, and his clients. When he plays bluegrass, his accompaniment comes from a fiddler, a banjo player, a bassist, and a mandolinist.

Born with cerebral palsy and blind since he was an infant, Tyler plays many instruments, but is usually seen with a guitar on his lap – like a dobro player. To make it more challenging, he’s a left-handed picker. The Tyler Williams Band has been playing at clubs and festivals around the country for about 10 years and has recorded two albums – and a third on the way.

He has a degree from Eastern Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tenn., where he majored in Broadcasting and had a minor in bluegrass. Music has been a big part of his life since he was a toddler – starting with piano and vocals, and later adding guitar, upright bass, mandolin, and harmonica to his repertoire.

There’s a chance that his daytime computer work and his music passion might overlap on occasion. If a vision-impaired bluegrass fan wants to search the web to listen to Tyler Williams Band, he or she might have Tyler himself to thank. 


Crissy Devine, Web Chick
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