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Accessibility Is a Necessity for Some and Useful for Everyone
Web accessibility is a necessity rather than an option today. It is a necessity for people with disabilities and useful for everyone who uses the Web.
According to Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, “The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.”
Before writing this article, I did a small experiment. I covered my eyes with a piece of cloth and tried to navigate my room. I moved inside the room with the help of the objects such as a chair, bed, desk, window, etc. Then, I tried to move to the living room. I felt a little uncomfortable and a little scared not to bump into anything and fall. I could not navigate much and moved back to my room. Now, again I tried to navigate my room. I could not identify the furniture. The space felt void. My very own room, my very own home felt alien and scary.
Will I be able to navigate somebody else’s home with my eyes closed? Maybe if that home is arranged exactly like my home. Maybe if all the homes have a basic design, I might be able to navigate any home even if I visit them for the first time.
Is Web accessibility a necessity? Yes, if you want to welcome your clients to your home page and not scare them away, because accessibility makes a website easily usable by anyone both with and without disability.
People With and Without Disability
According to the World Health Organization, the number of people who live with some form of disability is over 1 billion. Also, according to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, access to the Web is a right for people with disabilities.
People with the following different types of disabilities use the Web everyday:
People without disabilities will also benefit from accessibility, for example:
People using devices with small screens and devices with different input modes
People facing disabilities due to aging
People with a broken arm or who lost glasses temporarily
People who cannot use the Web due to bright sunlight or who cannot listen to audio due to their environment
People who do not have access to a fast Internet connection, or who have expensive bandwidth
Ten Scenarios Where Accessibility Is Both a Necessity and a Useful Tool
Captions help not only people who cannot hear but also people who cannot use audio in a particular environment such as a library.
2. Color Contrast:
Using contrasting foreground and background colors helps people to use the Web in various lighting conditions with ease. This is essential not only for people with low contrast sensitivity but also for people who use the Web and applications under poor or bright lighting conditions.
3. Voice Recognition:
Voice recognition, an advancement of technology, helps not only people with physical disabilities to search the Web, send an email, or place an order but also people with a temporary disability such as an injured arm to avoid RSI (Repetitive Stress Injury).
4. Text to Speech:
Computers can convert onscreen text to speech. This feature helps not only people with visual disabilities but also people with dyslexia and people who find difficulty reading text. People who need to multitask like listening to the text while doing some other work can also find this feature beneficial.
5. Clear Layout and Design:
Clear layout including proper headings, navigation bars, and styling can help any Web user to find information with ease. A cluttered layout and bad design can confuse people with cognitive and learning disabilities.
6. Notifications and Feedback:
Complex error messages can confuse people with cognitive and learning disabilities. Simple and clear feedback can help anyone including people with lower computer skills.
7. Large Links, Buttons, and Controls:
Larger links, buttons, and controls on the Web page can help people with reduced dexterity to navigate the Web with ease. They also can help people who might be moving while using mobile devices.
8. Customizable Text:
Customizable text includes changeable size, font, spacing, and colors. This can help people with low vision and dyslexia. Sometimes allowing people to customize the website based on their requirements is a necessity.
9. Understandable Content:
Poor structuring of content and using jargon is a burden not only for people with cognitive and learning disabilities but also for non-native speakers.
10. Keyboard Compatibility: Keyboard compatibility helps not only people with physical disabilities but also people who are faced with temporary limitations in mobility or with a broken mouse.
The Web is universal for people irrespective of their access to hardware or software, their language, location, or ability. When websites, applications, or technologies are developed and designed badly, they can create a barrier for people to use them. For high-quality websites and tools, accessibility is essential.
For questions and inquiries on accessibility, you can write to firstname.lastname@example.org