Designing Accessible Websites
Accessibility and Disability Defined
An accessible web page is a page that can be used as effectively and for the same purpose by a person with a disability as by a person without a disability.
True Test: Can people with a disabilities use your web page?
Types of Disabilities
- Cognitive Learning
- Visual (including blind, low vision, and color blind)
The web is a highly visual medium, so many accessibility techniques focus on users with visual disabilities, but you do need to remember all categories of disabilities.
How Many People with Disabilities?
- 54 million Americans have a disability (source: World Health Organization)
- 36% of people age 55-65 have a disability
- 15% of people age 22-44 have a disability Apply the 15% to the UT populations of 50,000 students and 20,000 employees and we can assume that 7,500 UT Students and 3,000 UT employees have a disability. As audience grows to include parents, alumni, Texans and the world, you can see the portion of our audience with disabilities is significant.
The techniques to make a website accessible automatically support the large audience that has what I call quasi-disabilities.
- Slow Internet Connection
- Old Browser
- Missing Plugins
- No Speakers
- Small Display (pda, mobile phone)
- Eyes busy / Hands busy
- Noisy Environment
The population you are helping becomes even larger when you consider this set of quasi-disabilities.
It helps to understand how a user with a disability can use a website. Specifically, assistive technology helps people w/ disabilities access web pages by reducing or removing barriers.
Two examples of commonly used software for people with visual disabilities are:
- JAWS by Freedom Scientific is the most popular screen reading software. JAWS uses an internal speech synthesizer and the computer sound card to read information from the computer screen aloud.
- Zoom Text by AI Squared is a screen magnifying software that makes computers accessible/friendly to low-vision users
These technologies works with very little help from web developers.