Accessibility - What is it?

What Accessibility Is

With reference to websites, accessibility is providing a means for users with disabilities to access the same information and services on a site that users without disabilities are able to access.

Why it is Important to Create Accessible Websites (1)

  • It is the law
    • Laws stating that people with disabilities cannot be discriminated against (e.g., Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 19730) may be applicable to your site
  • It provides more business to your company by bringing in business from disabled users
  • It is a step toward making websites renderable by alternative user agents
    • For example, mobile phones can better handle (display) the content on your site
  • It can make the size of your pages smaller to decrease bandwidth
  • It makes it easier for search engines to find your site
    • Your Google rank goes up making your site easier to find
  • It makes the site more usable for non-disabled users
    • For example, users with little experience on the web will be better able to navigate the site

Usable Accessibility

Some websites aim to reach a level of accessibility so as to conform only to the minimum requirements necessary to comply with the literal meaning of the law (Section 508 of the ADA).

CUDA will provide guidance on how to make websites both accessible and truly usable for disabled populations.

  • CUDA aims to allow people with disabilities to perceive and understand the information on websites, and navigate and interact with websites as well.

All Disabilities Should Be Considered When Evaluating a Website

When creating websites to be accessible for people with disabilities, sometimes people think only about designing for users with visual impairments, but it is important to consider all the disabilities users could possibly have:

  • Visual
  • Auditory
  • Motor
  • Cognitive

Sites Are Never 100% Accessible (2)

Websites are always inaccessible to someone because there are many different disabilities (and many are in opposition to one another) so designing a site with one disabled group in mind will necessarily exclude another group.

The best that can be done is create a site that is accessible for as many people as possible, and separate content from presentation so that other groups can hopefully change the presentation into a form that they can use.

Citations

(1) Lawson, Bruce. "Introduction", in Thatcher, Jim, Web Accessibility. FriendsofEd, 2006, pp. xxvii-xxviii.

(2) Lawson, Bruce. "Introduction", in Thatcher, Jim, Web Accessibility. FriendsofEd, 2006, pp. xxviii-xxxix.

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