Unintentionally Blank

Phil Nash on the Internet, Web Standards and Accessibility

Web Accessibility -- Not Just For The Blind

Sep 17, 2007

by Phil Nash

It seems to me that web accessibility can often be mistaken as being only for blind users. This couldn't be further from the truth, it affects a lot of people from the severely disabled to people who can't see their screen properly because the sun is shining on it.

How Do We Help These Other Cases Then?

First you need to know what you are dealing with. The WCAG1.0 gives a good idea of the different challenges users may face when using your site:

  • They may not be able to see, hear, move, or may not be able to process some types of information easily or at all.
  • They may have difficulty reading or comprehending text.
  • They may not have or be able to use a keyboard or mouse.
  • They may have a text-only screen, a small screen, or a slow Internet connection.
  • They may not speak or understand fluently the language in which the document is written.
  • They may be in a situation where their eyes, ears, or hands are busy or interfered with (e.g., driving to work, working in a loud environment, etc.).
  • They may have an early version of a browser, a different browser entirely, a voice browser, or a different operating system.

So accessibility on the web needs to consider those who are fully able, but may just be in a different situation to how you expect people to use the web, like not using a keyboard or mouse or being interfered with whilst surfing.

Upcoming -- Some Tips

Now we know what we have to face, I will be posting some tips on how to approach accessibility issues that you may not have thought about. If there are any areas in particular that you would like to know about, leave a comment or drop me an email.

Unintentionally Blank is Phil Nash's thoughts on web development from 2006-2008. Any code or opinions may be out of date.