Web Accessibility

Issues of Web accessibility don’t just affect people who have vision challenges. And since time-based content such as video and audio is common on the Web, there are now temporal pitfalls that affect a broader audience including the hearing impaired as well as the vision impaired.

Common accessibility challenges include:

  • Motor ability challenges from spinal injuries, Parkinson’s Disease, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, and stroke
  • Visual ability challenges such as blindness or color blindness
  • Auditory challenges posed by video and audio content on the Web
  • Photoepileptic eizures caused by flashing effects
  • Cognitive/Intellectual challenges in the categories of memory, attention, problem-solving, and logic skills

These issues need to be addressed in all Web site work in order to make Web content accessible to the widest possible audience. The Web, like society, works because of participation, and as many people as possible need to have the opportunity to participate and contribute. Making the Web accessible to everyone promotes a healthier Web and a healthier society. As Web professionals (and even novices), we have a social responsibility to practice accessibility guidelines.

Guidelines for Web development that make Web content available to the widest possible audience can be found at http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/ and http://www.section508.gov/.

In the first link above, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is “an international community where Member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards.” Businesses, browser companies such as Microsoft, open-source organizations such as Mozilla, as well as big businesses, universities, medical organizations (and the list goes on) strategize and create standards that make the Web work for everyone.

In the second link, the Section 508 Web site states that “In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities.” This law applies to Federal agencies, but is an important standard for everyone.


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