We constantly learn and this is the fact that makes people awake, motivated and then eager to implement new knowledge into their work or daily routine.  One of my first lessons this year relates to improving the website by making it accessible for people with disabilities.

I have become more aware of this topic after I received an email from an accidental Wellbe blog reader.  The person liked the story we wrote about but what about making it accessible to many other potential readers that cannot get news from our websites because of their impairments?  Big truth and just arguments for a company like Wellbe that strives to reach out to the widest possible audience.  It is a morally correct thing to do and we will consider making our websites better from this point of view.  It would be a smart thing to do, too especially when technology enables a variety of tools.  Last and not least, it is that the legal and the civil rights positions require equal opportunities for all.

Let us go through the short explanation about the web accessibility, what it means and why it matters.

What is 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.  Web accessibility also benefits others, including older people with changing abilities due to ageing.

Currently most Websites and Web software have accessibility barriers that make it difficult or impossible for many people with disabilities to use the Web.  As more accessible Websites and software become available, people with disabilities are able to use and contribute to the Web more effectively.

Web accessibility also benefits people without disabilities.  For example, a key principle of Web accessibility is about designing Websites and software that are flexible enough to meet different user needs, preferences, and situations.  This flexibility also benefits people without disabilities in certain situations, such as people using a slow Internet connection, people with “temporary disabilities” such as a broken arm, and people with changing abilities due to ageing.

Why Web Accessibility is Important?

The Web is an increasingly important resource in many aspects of life: education, employment, government, commerce, health care, recreation, and more.  It is essential that the Web be accessible in order to provide equal access and equal opportunity to people with disabilities.  An accessible Web can also help people with disabilities more actively participate in society.

People with Disabilities on the Web

Though estimates vary, most studies find that about one fifth (20%) of the population has some kind of disability.  Not all of these people have disabilities that make it difficult for them to access the internet, but it is still a significant portion of the population.  Businesses would be unwise, purposely, to exclude 20, 10, or even 5 percent of their potential customers from their web sites.  For schools, universities, and government entities it would not only be unwise, but in many cases, it would also violate the law.

The major categories of disability types are:

Blindness, low vision, colour-blindness

Deafness and hard-of-hearing

Inability to use a mouse, slow response time, limited fine motor control

Learning disabilities, distractibility, inability to remember or focus on large amounts of information

Each of the major categories of disabilities requires certain types of adaptations in the design of web content.  Most of the time, these adaptations benefit nearly everyone, not just people with disabilities.  Almost everyone benefits from helpful illustrations, properly-organized content, and clear navigation.  Similarly, while captions are a necessity for deaf users, they can be helpful to others, including anyone who views a video without audio.

In order to compose this blog, I read several websites and watched few videos about this.  It also reminded on our earlier blog about the travel agency, our friend and partner, that offers services to the people with hearing impairment http://www.old-page.wellbe-ims.com/holidays-deaf/




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