Accessibility Issues

If the idea of accessible web design is new to you or you are unable to understand why accessibility can be a problem on some sites, remember that many users may “see” web pages in a very different way to you:

  • They may not be able to see, hear, move, or may not be able to process some types of information
    easily or at all.
  • They may have difficulty reading or comprehending text.
  • They may not have or be able to use a keyboard or mouse.
  • They may have a text-only screen, a small screen, or a slow Internet connection.
  • They may not speak or understand fluently the language in which the page is written.
  • They may be in a situation where their eyes, ears, or hands are busy or interfered with (e.g. working in a loud environment).
  • They may have an early version of a browser, a different browser entirely, a voice browser, or a
    different operating system.
  • They may be unable to see colors at all. Many people (about 8% of men and 0.5% of women) are unable to distinguish certain colors, such as red and green.

Accessibility allows for a larger participating audience. Accessible web pages will, for example, expand a site’s potential audience to the millions who are disabled, or who have slow connections.

In some countries, it’s the law. In the United Kingdom, for example, the UK Equality Act (the Disability Discrimination Act in Northern Ireland) requires reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities, and that requirement extends to web sites.

Accessible designs often benefit not only people with disabilities but also those in the mainstream. Well structured and organised web sites that present information clearly and effectively are often favoured by all users.

Accessibility is not only “The Right Thing To Do”. From a commercial standpoint, it can maximise the potential audience (and, therefore, the potential client base) for any web site.