What is Accessibility?
Accessibility is about providing a means for users with disabilities to access the same information and services that users without disabilities are able to access.
Why it is Important to Create Accessible Websites(1)
- It is the law. See Section 508 Law and Related Laws and Policies.
- It makes websites more usable for ALL users.
- It is a step toward making websites renderable by alternative user agents such as mobile phones.
- It can make pages sizes smaller which decreases bandwidth.
- It makes it easier for search engines to find a particular site – for example, a site’s Google rank goes up – which brings in more users or business.
Some websites aim merely to conform to Section 508 standards. CUDA can provide guidance on how to make websites that both conform to the standards AND that are truly usable for disabled populations.
Sites Are Never 100% Accessible(2)
Websites are always inaccessible to someone because there are so many different types of disabilities (many in opposition to one another) – designing a site with one disability type or group in mind necessarily excludes other types or groups.
Some designers consider only users with visual impairments when creating accessible websites, but it is important to consider other types of disabilities, such as auditory, motor, and cognitive as well.
The best that can be done is to create a site that is accessible for as many people as possible and to separate content from presentation so that other groups can hopefully change the presentation into a form they can use.
(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.