Visualize this: You’re driving to a friend’s place which has no road signs or distinct land markers. Your chances of finding this friend’s place without someone or GPS to direct you are probably none. Furthermore, should you be expected to find this same place in darkness, giving up to head home might not seem like a bad idea, right?
A Web site works similarly: if there are no clear directions on how to navigate through the site or it has poor visual cues on how to convey the content, then it will be given a low ranking and no accessibility. If this is the case for people with the gift of sight, imagine the plight of millions of visually challenged visitors who would want to access and locate content on your site.
An accessible Web site provides assistance in communicating effectively with the widest audience by flattening roadblocks in interaction. All it requires of the Web site owners is to follow Best Practices in site and content design principals to make the Web site easily reachable for all. The most common categories that hinder accessibility are:
o Blindness and Low Vision. A whole range of computer technology can provide assistance ranging from screen readers, refreshable Braille displays and screen magnifiers. Assistance in keyboard/ Web site navigation, scalable display font sizes, fuzzy searches, alt tags for all images and high contrast between the background and the text go a long way.
o Cognitive and Learning Disabilities. Simple and intuitive navigation, consistency in content presentation through out the Web site, clear labels and ALT tags, relevant and meaningful content, lengthy documents carrying executive summaries at the top and language understood by a wider audience.
o Impairment of hearings. Websites needs to be accessible with content captioning synchronized with multimedia and other manners of rendering content as well as interactive volume controls.
o Mobility and Speech Impairment. Technology providing assistance usually requires computer hardware at user site and assistive Web site architecture. This includes one-handed keyboards, head/mouth sticks and full eye tracking on the user’s computer. Web site navigation using voice recognition provides an easy way to navigate through a Web site.
Access Ramp to your Websites?
Designing navigable sites for people with disabilities is not only federally mandated in some cases it is also socially desirable and makes good business sense too. The organization pursuing it comes across as one that has a strong sense of social responsibility, and sensitive to the needs of the otherwise challenged. It is also desirable because legislation like Section 508 (of the Rehabilitation act) mandate that US federal agencies have their Websites accessible for the blind and visually impaired with the help of screen readers.
Section 508, for those not conversant with the Act, requires “federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities…Under Section 508 (29 USC ‘794d), agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information that is comparable to the access available to others.”… Read More