Is web content just one click away?

If you were asked to picture your idea of accessibility, what would you see? An entrance way with a ramp? A building with an elevator? What if you were asked to picture a person with a disability? Is he or she in a wheelchair? We often think of accessibility as physical access for people in wheelchairs. But it has a much broader scope.

Web accessibility extends beyond physical space. The power of the web lies in its universality; access for everyone is an essential element. The ability to “be online” is an integral part of our lives: we pay our bills, we shop, we read the news, we interact with friends, etc. In fact, there are businesses that exist almost entirely on the web (Amazon, Google, eBay). Yet many services and websites are not accessible to groups of people with certain disabilities.

Potential users may include persons who are color blind, partially or completely blind, hard of hearing, or deaf. Users may also have limited mobility in their upper body or a learning disability.

These individuals most likely encounter barriers to their online navigation on a daily basis. Things like small text and poor color contrast could impact those with color or partial blindness. For deaf people, multimedia components may be difficult to access without captions. Sites that require a mouse to navigate present a barrier for persons with limited mobility. And complicated writing may provide difficulty for anyone with a learning disability.

So what can you do? Simple changes can include altering your page and text colors so everything is clear and easy to read. Make sure to underline your links or add a symbol or picture so that people who are color blind can easily identify them. Another easy one is adding captions to your images, audio clips, and videos. And lastly, write simple sentences that are easy to read and to understand (in a decent-sized font!)

If you are more advanced in the IT department, check out ways to alter your code to allow for keyboard navigation and screen-reader compatibility.

The web is such a big part of our daily lives that it has become a necessity. It provides access to almost anything you can think of. The phrase “Google it” is probably expressed once every few seconds around the globe. So now it’s our turn to provide access to the web!

For a quick review of accessibility on our site, check out the video below


Resources:

http://www.w3.org/WAI/

http://www.alistapart.com/articles/wiwa/

http://www.netmagazine.com/features/simple-introduction-web-accessibility

 

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