What is Accessiblity?
Web Accessiblity is all about ensuring that anyone and everyone can view the contents of your web site. At first this may sound simple but when you consider the various ways that content can be displayed and transmitted it becomes more complex. Have you asked yourself the following questions:
* What if the visitor on my organisation’s web site is colour blind?
* What if the visitor on my organisation’s web site is partially sighted?
* How is information being displayed at present?
* Is information still conveyed clearly to visitors with disabilities?
Fortunately there are ways to solve the issues above and more. The solving of these issues is what accessibility is all about.
Web Accessibility legislation and statutes
There are a number of laws and statues governing accessibility in the United States (Section 508), United Kingdom (Disability Discrimination Act), European Union and worldwide. A lot of this legislation is not just concerning online accessiblity but accessibility in all areas of life.
Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA)
This Act was made statute law over in the UK in 1995 but has still not filtered through to many areas of everyday life.
This Code of Practice gives practical guidance on how to prevent discrimination against disabled people in accessing services or premises. It describes the duties of those providing services to the public and those selling, letting or managing premises (under Part III of the Act). The Code also helps disabled people to understand the law and assists service providers, landlords and other persons to avoid complaints and litigation by adopting good practice. It also aims to advance the elimination of discrimination against disabled people and to encourage good practice.
Since the World Wide Web and Internet are relatively new so are the related applications of the DDA, however, the deadline for government and local government web sites to be compliant has now passed.
Section 508 is the US legislation governing accessibility. It allows all individuals including those with disabilities to have access to any information technology: i.e. it requires “text-only” pages (helping people with visual disabilities) and usability for people that are visually impaired such as alternative keyboard navigation.
It assures accessibility to web page graphics by the visually impaired using assistive technology such as screen readers and refreshable Braille displays (this is accomplished by using text labels and descriptors for graphics).
Benefits of Accessiblity compliance
* To provide equal access and equal opportunity to people with disabilities
* Let them perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with your web site
* Help older people with changing abilities due to aging to interact with your web site and access your services
* Let color blind people read the web page’s content easily. They may have problems distinguishing between words and background colours and may find it difficult reading your content correctly.
* An accessible web can help people with disabilities actively participate in society.