“Web Accessibilities” is something you’ll see and hear more often nowadays as it pertains to web design. It’s becoming a popular way to differentiate oneself from the masses from a business perspective, of course, but it goes further. It’s about accommodation to your website visitors. Most developers, you see, haven’t really considered this, or at least as it concerns folks with disabilities. Many developers think access has do to with your average Joe being able to see the content. Some, the truly ignorant, don’t consider that much. They figure that if their website is viewable on Microsoft’s Internet Explorer then they’ve done their job. That is until someone with another browser, a more standardized one such as Mozilla’s Firefox, comes along and informs them they can’t even see their site or that the layout is all messed up. Sometimes that’s a shock and they try to fix things. Others lamely state that 80% — or whatever the current percentage — of people use Internet Explorer so they don’t see a problem. This is, unfortunately, not even close to the right way to think about web design and accessibility.
Other web developers take accessibility quite seriously, myself included. Are we satisfied with catering to one user? No. Are we satisfied with catering to “Normal” users? No, again. The developers who take site access seriously are only satisfied in knowing that everyone can access the site. I’m not handicapped in such a way that prevents me from accessing the web, and I have several browsers — as all serious developers should — so if one doesn’t give me the content, maybe another will (though I’d have to be desperate to see the site to fire up another browser, I’d probably just say the heck with it and try another site). So what do we do to ensure the desired accessibility? Well, we start by conforming to web standards as discussed on the Green-Beast.com Design Talk page. And that usually guarantees access to the “Normal” user accessing the site with a “Normal” web browsing device. But that still falls short of the blanket accessibility we’re after. To ensure equal access we have to step it up even more. But it’s not like we have to guess about what is needed. There are a greater number of accessibility resources on the web everyday. Here are some exemplary links:
- W3C Accessibilities Initiative
- Accessible Information Solutions
- Section 508 Site
- Dive Into Accessibility
- A List Apart Site
- Guild of Accessible Web Designers
It’s a lot of work complying with accessibility guidelines as defined by the W3C Accessiblities Initiative. Is it worth it, the extra work and time? To one who wants to view your site or can’t normally access the web without some of these features, then yes. It’s completely worth it — to them, and thus should be for you as well.