Be the first to write a review
Bruce explains the reasons why Web Accessibility is important to all Dreamweaver professionals. It's a skill that will become increasingly demanded by clients as more and more legal test cases go to court, and is a great way of making you stand out from the crowd when tendering for jobs. Also, in the same way that architects can be sued as well as building owners if a building doesn't cater for people with disabilities, constructing accessible web sites could just save yourself a lawsuit...
What is Web Accessibility?
In the same way that modern offices and public buildings
have ramps for wheelchair access and Braille on elevator buttons that make
entry and navigation easier for those with a disability, modern websites have
analogous features that make the site easier for the disabled. Like old buildings,
some websites are almost inaccessible for those in a wheelchair, or un-navigable
for the blind.
Web Accessibility is about designing, and coding sites that do not exclude users who are blind, who cannot use a mouse. It's not difficult to do, but in the same way that it's easier for a builder to build a new house with 32inch-wide doors to allow wheelchair access than it is for the same builder to convert an existing house to have wider doors, it's much easier to design your web site to be accessible than it is to alter it once it's been designed and built.
I've got no disabled visitors - so it doesn't matter.
Firstly - how do you know you have no people with a disability who want to come to your site? The fact that your site excludes them obviously means that you have no visitors with disabilities - it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. So your site sells sports equipment - do you know for a fact that there is no person with a disability trying to buy a skateboard for their son or daughter? Can you afford to turn down that sale?
A note on terms, and the limits of Accessibility
Web Accessibility is a highly politicized subject, touching as it does on the idea of discrimination and human rights. I am using the term "disabled" rather than euphemisms like "differently-abled", "mobility-impaired", for reasons of brevity, directness and because legislations and many pressure groups use the term. No slight is intended.
This tutorial deals with visual impairments, hearing loss and mobility disabilities. The continuum of cognitive disabilities ranges from autism to dyslexia to Down Syndrome to Alzheimer's disease, and is very difficult to deal with, because it requires changing the content. I suggest that making a site about Quantum Physics accessible to someone with a learning disability is unnecessary - and probably impossible. Feel free to flame me on
Similarly, I believe that there are limits to Web Accessibility. I do not accept that there is a need to 'accessify' experiential, visual sites like superbad or Josh Davis' Praystation for the blind, anymore than you need subtitles for the deaf on instrumental music. But for sites that are for information, or commerce can and should be made accessible.
I don't have an e-commerce site - why should I care?
For these reasons:
- It's the right thing to do. In the same way that you wouldn't stop someone coming into your shop if they were in a wheelchair, or wouldn't tell them to leave your shop if they were black, you wouldn't want to prevent a person with a disability viewing your shiny site that you've worked so hard to make.
- Because people aren't disabled all the time. For example, someone who's broken her writing arm can't use a mouse - do you want to stop her navigating your site? I broke my spectacles the other day, and it took two days to get some more made. In that time, sites that didn't allow me to resize the text were literally unreadable. You write your blog because you want people do read it, don't you? So why exclude me?
- It makes you look good. Sites that are accessible are still in the
minority, so if yours is accessible you'll get noticed. If you let
disabled groups know this (drop them an email after googling to find your
area's societies) they'll pass the word round, and you're likely to get good,
- It could be the law. If you live in the
U.S.and you get federal funding, or want to tender for federally-funded work, you probably need to be section 508 compliant and you'll need to check your state's legislation
If you're in the
- You can avoid a lawsuit, and the attendant bad publicity.
AOL were sued (but settled out of court); South West Airlines were sued
by a blind user who couldn't get a net-booking discount. The airline was eventually
found not to be breaking the law (the judge found that the Americans with
Disabilities act only applies to physical spaces, the idiot) but they generated
a great deal of bad publicity for the company. Being known as a business that
engages in discrimination is an exception to the rule that there is no such
thing as bad publicity.
- It makes good business sense. In the
U.K., a supermarket chain, Tesco, launched the first accessible on-line grocery shopping site. They didn't do this because they felt charitable, but because if each of the estimated 1.9 million visually-impaired adults in the UK bought just one average virtual trolley-full (£85), this would mean over £161 million of business. The site cost £35,000 to develop. That's a decent potential Return on Investment there. There are further case-studies on the business case for Accessibility at http://www.eu.microsoft.com/enable/casestudy/default.aspx
I'm the brand manager of glasshaus, a publishing company specialising in books for web professionals. We've a series for dreamweaver professionals - the dreamweaver pro series.
You must me logged in to write a review.