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Is Your Website Breaking The Law

by Zane Clements

Yes its a fact, from October 2004 your web site could be breaking the law if you dont meet the accessible guidelines laid out by W3C.

The design and build of an accessible website relies not just on awareness and designing with accessibility in mind, but also careful planning, testing and evaluation.

Accessibility is the degree to which anyone can access and use a website using any web browsing technology. A fully accessible site is one that is designed to make use of the latest web technologies such as multimedia, while at the same time accommodating the needs of those who have difficulty with or are unable to use these technologies.

Accessibility is not about dull, boring websites
Text-only sites can be useful for someone using speech or braille output or even a mobile phone. However well designed graphics and multimedia are a positive aid to using and understanding websites for the rest of the browsing public, and do not need to be sacrificed for accessibility.

Design for all
Accessibility is about flexibility in design. Designers need to think in terms of providing more than one way of doing things on a website, so that if a user is unable to use one method, other options are available to them.

Tackling myths and assumptions
Accessibility is also about avoiding myths and assumptions about how and why people use the web. It may surprise you to learn that accessibility benefits everyone who uses your website, not just people who have a disability.

Some examples of the types of assumptions and mistakes that are commonly made:

  • Everyone can use a mouse.
  • Everyone can upgrade to the latest browser or download the required plug-in.
  • Blind people can't drive, so they won't be interested in a website about cars.

A better web experience for everyone
Accessibility is about understanding and supporting the needs of the people who visit your website. A well-designed site will remove the barriers that may prevent people from entering and using it. A website that is accessible will provide the same level of experience to everyone who visits it, regardless of his or her level of ability or disability.

Inclusion not exclusion
Imagine visiting your favourite shop. For example Marks and Spencer, You find it open for business, but all the doors are locked. How would you feel unable to open those doors even though you know they are open to others? Frustrated, angry, excluded?

This was what it was like for a visitor to there web site, all images without alt tags, no long descriptions, and so on. This may sound ridiculous but it might not be as far-fetched as you may think. If we examine how people with different needs use websites, we may find it uncomfortably close to the truth.

Some Valuable quotes:

"Did you know that producing information in such a way that all your customers can read, makes good business sense, is the law and is fair?"

"For the first time in six years I’ve been able to complete my food shopping without sighted assistance. That felt brilliant - A blind internet user"

Discuss this in our Forum

About the Author:

Zane Clements Accessibility Authority Free Accessible Test

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