Wikipedia defines Web accessibility as the inclusive practice of making websites usable by people of all abilities and disabilities. All users should have access to information and functionality. For example, a good site/app with textual equivalents for images and with meaningful links would help blind users using text-to-speech software. Sufficiently large text/images or enlargeable makes it easier for users with poor sight to comprehend. Making hyperlinks prominent with underline and not just by a color change, would help color-blind users. Similarly, making clickable areas large enough would help users who cannot control mouse with precision. Users with dyslexia and learning difficulties would appreciate when content is presented in plain language and illustrated with instructional diagrams and animations.
If some practices are followed, all users in fact can be accommodated while not sacrificing the overall usability of the web site. The needs that accessibility aims to address include:
- Visual: Visual impairments – blindness, low vision, color blindness;
- Motor/Mobility: Difficulty/inability to use hands, muscle slowness, lack of muscle control;
- Auditory: Deafness, hard of hearing;
- Seizures: Caused by visual strobe or flashing effects;
- Cognitive/Intellectual: Developmental disabilities, learning disabilities, poor memory, lack of problem-solving and logic skills.
Few examples of almost accessible sites:
- texas a&m
- state of california
- enabled online
- one day films
- open web
- keep austin beautiful
- hoehner music
This site exemplifies how web elements can be designed to be accessible. It puts forth the most common items together on one site that can make a site accessible. Things like: choosing a proper color contrast, alternative text for images, separating the structure (navigation, heading, subheading) and presentation (words, fonts, images), allowing users control over re-sizing of content, etc. For overall guidelines, please refer to: WCAG 2.0.
Just as our buildings have elevators and ramps, our web sites and products should be accessible to people with disabilities (10% of the population). Today’s it’s good business and ethical thing to do. Eventually, it will become the law.
Next dimension in line: Credible.