Web accessibility, what are we talking about?

Mainly, when we think of web accessibility we are referring to a type of web design and development that allows disable-people to have access to the whole information contained in the site they are navigating.

Internationally recognized symbol of accessibility

Internationally recognized symbol of accessibility

Nowadays we are living an upward trend in the use of the Internet, but we cannot forget that some groups of people are still having difficulties accessing normally to websites data. Deaf or blind people, for instance, need special aids in order to experience all the functionality that a website can offer.

For this reason, screen reader software, Braille terminals, speech recognition software or special keyboards for those with motor control difficulties have become succesful technologies in order to assist handicapped computer and Internet users.

But how do we know if our website is accessible enough? Luckily, thanks to different asociations and organizations, we have some tools to examine it and later, we will receive some feedback. Staff working in these asociations are remarkable experts in website design and accessibility that will also try to give us some piece of advice or basic guidelines to help us improve our web without impacting on the usability for non-disable users.

So, what do these organizations recommend us? Enlargeable images and underlined or coloured links are measures that help collosally to people with vision problems. If clickable areas are large enough, users who cannot control a mouse with precision obtain a great benefit. When videos are available with a sign language version, deaf users can actually understand the content. Making flashing effects optional will be beneficial for those who suffer from epilepsy. And last, but not less important, if the information is written in plain language and illustrated with diagrams and animations, users with dyslexia have less difficulties to learn.

Finally, it is fair to say that nations around the world are taking web accessibility seriously. They encourage web designers to follow these helping measures, trying to defend every citizen rights. To reinforce this idea, there are some penalties for those who are less colaborative.

So, next time you update a website, make it accessible. You will have more potential readers and at the same time, and more important, you will be doing some good to ‘cybersociety’.


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October 2008


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