Why Make Websites Accessible?

article

#1

Originally published at: http://www.sitepoint.com/why-make-websites-accessible/

Is your web content “accessible” to all? If not, how many users could it possibly affect?

Web Accessibility is the process of developing applications that are adequately usable by the broadest range of users, regardless of their abilities. I believe you can probably answer the questions now. If your answer is “No”, you have come to the right place.

At SitePoint, we have talked about how you can make your web content accessible. However, it’s quite possible that no one has ever told you why you should consider putting forth the effort to make your content accessible — especially when your website is working “just fine”!

Disabilities and the use of Assistive Technology

Have you ever heard of the term Assistive Technology (AT)? Even if you haven’t, let me show you an example of the most used Assistive Technology:

Surprised? Most likely you, or at least someone in your family, wears glasses or contact lenses. Now comes the question: if eyeglasses are AT, do you have a disability?

In a way, yes. Long- or short-sightedness is a disease that prevents you from experiencing the world like everyone else and the use of eyeglasses corrects that disability.

Imagine how you would react if you logged on to a website and it didn’t work for people using eyeglasses.

Continue reading this article on SitePoint


#2

An interesting article, Shaumik.

With the growth of speech-activated devices (Kinect, Siri, Cortana, etc), would you group speech defects as accessibility issues? Sometimes these aren't due to cognitive or neural issues; they could be caused by physical damage (vocal cord damage, muscle weakness, respiratory weakness, etc.), or could well be a limitation of the software itself (e.g., Siri not understanding a Scottish person saying "Jammie dodger"). It feels logical that we see more applications, and websites, using speech as part of the user experience as it'll make things like search feel more intuitive and could itself be seen as an assistive technology for people with certain cognitive or learning difficulties.


#3

"You have won $1,000"

Awesome example!!! thumbsup


#4

I wrote this with the point of view of web applications. But speech based disabilities could definitely be grouped separately. It would qualify as a disability because you are not able to communicate like everyone else.

Although I can't think of any specific AT for speech disabilities, if there's an alternative to the speech based inputs (like entering through a keyboard), I think the problem of accessibility is solved (as it's about giving equal opportunities to everyone).

But your point about using speech as an AT is another fresh perspective that didn't come to my mind. Thanks for sharing your thoughts smile


#5

Thanks Mikey!

Here's another good example that Jared Smith talks about.


#6

The good news is that a lot of the ways to make your website more accessible are really easy - they simply involve not filling it full of fancy-pants ways to recreate basic native browser functionality (ie, crap).

Yes, content accessibility can sometimes need additional thought and work - for example, avoiding reliance on colour or images - but function accessibility is more often than not available through standard HTML. It's when webbists try to show off or use frameworks that they don't understand that it really starts to go pear-shaped.


#7

Totally agree with you! In such cases, the SEO may suffer too.


#8

Good article and some interesting comments.

Other assistive tech I'd like to add are: voice control, touch screens and specialist input devices like eye tracking or click switching. Each offering a different way to interact with the web UI.

Multiple imparements are an area I feel often over looked in accessibility, so for people who may have both sight and hearing imparements are most likely to use refreshable Braille displays. Or people may use multiple assistive technology together to gain access to the web.


#9

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