One of the best things about website is that they break down many traditional boundaries: geographical, ethnic, physical. For example, when you’re doing business online it’s just as easy to transact with a company on the other side of the world or a person in a wheelchair.
When the web first started, pages were just simple text and maybe a picture or two. Now websites can be vast libraries of complex pages, videos, scripting, etc. These modern innovations have made it challenging to make sure websites are accessible.
Why care about website accessibility?
Most people are motivated by their social conscience enough to make websites accessible. But if you need more reasons, try these:
- It’s good business sense
- Many places it can be considered discrimination if your site isn’t accessible and lawsuits can mean big money.
What exactly makes a website accessible?
Websites are accessible when they can be viewed by all, both disabled and nondisabled, regardless of what browsing technology is being used. Browsing technology includes:
- text only browsers, such as Lynx
- screen readers, devices that read the webpage aloud
- screen magnifiers, which may only make a few words visible at a time
- slow connections
Tips for making a website accessible:
- Make your website able to function will all types of browsing technology including text only browsers, screen readers and screen magnifiers.
- Ensure that forms are accessible – This can be especially challenging for screen readers.
- Keep content and structure separate from the design or presentation – this helps devices interpret content.
- Give the viewers control – let them enlarge their text size and inform them when you are going to open, close or redirect to other windows.
For more information, visit:
W3 Website Accessibility Initiative – http://www.w3.org/WAI/
Federal Information on Technology Accessibility – http://www.section508.gov/
Website Accessibility in Mind – http://webaim.org/