A quick and dirty introduction to accessibility
Date: 25 October 2004
Author: Russ Weakley
Accessibility is not…
- Text-only pages
- Separate accessible versions (except in multimedia)
Accessibility is about building web pages that can be navigated and read by everyone, regardless of disability, location, experience or technology.
“The power of the web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.”
Founder of the World Wide Web
Director of W3C
- Visual impairment
- Low vision
- Colour deficiency
- Mobility or dexterity impairment
- Total or partial paralysis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Cerebral palsy
- Lack of limb movement
- Cognitive impairment
- Cognitive disabilities
- Loss of brain function
- Short term memory loss
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Old age
- Learning difficulties
- Attention Deficit Disorder
- Other non-verbal learning difficulties
- Cognitive disabilities
- Hearing impairment
Devices and software
Input devices and software used to access web content
- Standard mouse
- Oversized trackball mouse
- Mouth sticks
- Head wands
- Sip and puff switches
- Eye tracking devices
- Voice recognition software
Output devices and software used for web content
- Graphic browsers
- Text browsers
- Audio screen readers – including:
- Braille devices
- Screen magnifiers – including:
Why bother with accessibility?
- Legal reasons
- Moral reasons
“The internet is a place of equality. It gives us all power and choice at the same level – but only if our access to it is equal to everyone else’s”
- Public service reasons
“The public sector has an obligation to serve the public. You aren’t doing that if the only people you’re serving are people without disabilities”
- Commercial reasons
“The 2003 SDAC estimates that one in five Australians (3,951,000 or 20%) had a disability. This rate was the same for males and females. The rate increased with age, reaching 81% for those aged 85 years and over.”
- Accessible web pages benefit everyone
The four phases of accessibility development
- Ignorance is bliss
- “Do we really need to worry about such a small percentage of users?”
- “Do blind people need to access the web anyway?”
- “We have given them alt tags and a text-only version. What more do they want?”
- Learning to walk
- “There is just so much to consider, where do I start”
- Part of the process
- “I don’t even think about it anymore, it is just part of my process”
Some quick ways to improve accessibility
- Are “alt” attributes used for all descriptive images?
- Does the site use relative units for text size?
- Do any aspects of the layout break if font size is increased?
- Does the site use visible skip menus?
- Does the site use accessible forms?
- Does the site use accessible tables?
- Is there sufficient colour brightness/contrasts?
- Is colour alone used for critical information?
- Do functions on the site require a good eye and a steady hand?
- Are all links descriptive?
- Can you access all areas of the web page with just the keyboard (tab key)?
- Is the content accessible with CSS switched off or not supported?
- Is the content accessible with images switched off or not supported?
- Does the site work in text browsers such as Lynx?
- Does the site work well in a range of browser window sizes?
For a more detailed checklist, see the Web Standards checklist.
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