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.”

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

Mobile Web Standards Announced

James over at JKontherun has the news about the launch of mobile Web standards by the W3C. James notes, “The new standards look to not only create enjoyable mobile browsing experiences but also to insure that folks with disabilities can benefit from the mobile web.” Check out our mobile and handheld usability article. Here’s the release:

W3C Standards Make Mobile Web Experience More Inviting

New Work Started on Mobile Web Application Guidelines

29 July 2008 — W3C today announced new standards that will make it easier for people to browse the Web on mobile devices. Mobile Web Best Practices 1.0, published as a W3C Recommendation, condenses the experience of many mobile Web stakeholders into practical advice on creating mobile-friendly content.

10 ways to orientate users on your site

Imagine you’re driving along and due to a road closure you have to follow those conspicuous yellow detour signs. You’re now on an unfamiliar road, but because of the signs you confidently proceed, comfortable in trusting the arrows to tell you where you need to go.

Then there’s a roundabout and no sign. Do you turn left? Right? You’re lost and have two choices; turn back and find an alternate road you know well or blindly drive around and hope for the best.

Websites are very similar, no matter what their ultimate goal is, your site visitors need to intuitively find their way around. Too often, general website navigation and orientation disappears or changes on internal pages.

In fact, with websites this point is even more pertinent as users can just ‘evaporate’ and leave your site, instead of being forced to drive around aimlessly!

An Introduction to Screen Readers

YahooVictor Tsaran is an accessibility engineer at Yahoo! who focuses on developing best practices for the creation of websites that work well with screen readers. The video below is about a year old but still provides great insight into the acessibility side of the Web. It’s something we don’t speak about enough but is so very important.

Web Accessibility Myths

The Disability Discrimination Act says that web sites must be made accessible to disabled people. The DRC’s recent report has suddenly thrown this into the spotlight of the online community and a lot of misinformation has been thrown around. This article attempts to put a stop to this and tell you the truth behind web accessibility.

1. Creating a text-only equivalent is sufficient
Pages: