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Web Accessibility

Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can use the web. More specifically, web accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the web, and that they can contribute to the web.

W3C Web Accessibility Initiative

Accessibility is not just for people with disabilities

As the quote above suggests, web accessibility is, at its simplest, about ensuring that your content is available to those with disabilities. But web accessibility is about much more than that. Increasingly, more visitors to your site are accessing your content in unique ways. Not every visitor reads your content on-screen in a web browser. Some visitors may not be able to see or hear. Some may not be using computers at all, but may be visiting your site from a number of other types of devices. Some may not even be human. Some of the biggest and, arguably, most important visitors to your site are search engines.

Accessibility means not designing for a particular type of user or device

Because of the multitude of ways in which visitors access and use your content, it is important that you, as a web content author keep the principles of web accessibility in mind when creating content online. When you create content with a specific type of user in mind, you risk making your content inaccessible to countless others. When your design for a specific type of device, your content may or may not work at all on other types.

Web Accessibility Quicktips

By keeping a few key concepts in mind, you can ensure that your content is accessible and usable to most users (adapted from the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative’s WCAG 2.0 at a Glance):

  • Ensure that your content is perceivable
    • Provide text alternatives for non-text content. This can include providing proper alt attributes for images.
    • Provide captions and alternatives for audio and video content. For help with captioning of online video, please contact us.
    • Make content adaptable; and make it available to assistive technologies. By following basic web standards, you will help ensure that your content is available to users on a variety of devices, including assistive technology.
  • Ensure that your content is operable
    • Make all functionality keyboard accessible. Remember that not all users have access to or the ability to use a mouse.
    • Give users enough time to read and use content.
    • Help users navigate and find content. Clear navigation and proper use of links, headings, paragraphs, lists and other basic elements goes a long way in making content usable.
  • Ensure that your content is understandable
    • Make text readable and understandable.
    • Make content appear and operate in predictable ways.
  • Ensure that your content is robust
    • Maximize compatibility with current and future technologies. When designing with accessibility in mind, you are ensuring that your content is available to all users, not only today, but also in the future.
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