Why Accessibility is Important to You

What is Accessibility?

Accessibility is a term that is more associated with architectural thought, rather than web site design. There is legislation which determines the minimum standards for new buildings. As a result, new buildings today have wheelchair ramps, accessible lifts and disability parking spaces, allowing anyone with disabilities to gain access to a building, use the provided services, buy the products, and chat with the people inside.

With web sites, the term traditionally refers to the development of sites that are accessible to “all” users who may want to access them — in other words, “Universal Web Sites.”

An Interesting Predicament

For the last month or two, I have been doing some side work updating a Web site and adding a few new features to it. The problem is, however, that I can’t visit the site from my home computer. Somewhere along the way, my connection to the site seems to be blocked.

CenterNetworks Updates (and upgrades) Design

Our sister site, CenterNetworks, unveiled a new Web site design late last week. I must admit that, though I never really had any problems with the previous design, I think the new one is a real upgrade. The new design features cooler colors, working within the blue and green spectrum, and a slightly more intuitive layout. The ads seem a little less obtrusive and more of the items people are apt to use on a regular basis are easier to find. Let me know what you think of the new design, especially if you had experience with previous incarnations of the CN design.

Web Accessibility Basics

What is web accessibility & why is it important?

Web accessibility is about making your website accessible to all Internet users (both disabled and non-disabled), regardless of what browsing technology they’re using. In addition to complying with the law, an accessible website can reap huge benefits on to your website and your business.

Please read the articles, Benefits of an accessible website – part 1 and Benefits of an accessible website – part 2 for more about the importance of web accessibility.

Your website must be able to function with all different browsing technologies

The first and perhaps the most important rule of web accessibility. Not everyone is using the latest version of Internet Explorer, with all the plug-ins and programs that you may require them to have for your website. Different browsing technologies can include:

  • Lynx browser – Text-only browser with no support for tables, CSS, images, JavaScript, Flash or audio and video content
  • WebTV – 560px in width with horizontal scrolling not available
  • Screen reader – Page content read aloud in the order it appears in the HTML document
  • Handheld device – Very small screen with limited support for JavaScript and large images
  • Screen magnifier – As few as three to four words may be able to appear on the screen at any one time
  • Slow connection (below 56kb) – Users may turn off images to enable a faster download time
  • 1600px screen width – Very wide screen

DirecTV versus Dish Network versus cable

When I first signed up for DirecTV, I did so rather begrudgingly. I hate signing long-term contracts for services, but I was truly tired of only having five networks from which to choose (we were only able to pick up NBC, CBS, Fox, ABC and three PBS channels – we didn’t even get UPN or the WB – which, in our area, consequently became MyNetwork and the CW, respectively).

However, I’ve actually become rather attached to the service over the last year or so. I like the all-digital network (which cost me more than twice what DirecTV is costing me when I had the digital cable service when I lived in a cable-ready house), with the built-in programming guide. I actually am at a loss for what to do when I turn on the television at someone else’s house, and I can’t just hit the “guide” button to see what’s on.

An Amusing and Disturbingly Accurate Post

I came across a very amusing and disturbingly accurate post the other day on a blog I frequent. The content of the post deals with how to diplomatically deal with the barrage of requests you get for “front page exposure” at an institution of higher learning.

I’m not sure how much of this translates to the corporate world, but this is a common occurrence at many colleges and universities.

Thankfully, I don’t deal with this at my job nearly as much as Drew seems to.

Developer Resources