A very common misconception when talking about accessibility is accessibility is meant only designing for users with disabilities. Nothing could be further from the truth, in fact accessibility is relevant to everyone. More often than not when accessibility is addressed early the outcome it usability increases for everyone. More often than not designers to not fully account for the disabled community and for persons using an assistive technology or facing situational constraints, accessible design becomes much more essential. For example, let me outline limitations, constraints, and accommodations.
|Blindness; low vision||Poor lighting; low screen resolution||Re-sizable or large fonts|
|Deafness; hard of hearing||Noisy workplace||Text alternatives; captioning|
|Mobility; physical weakness||Cannot use a mouse||Provide keyboard navigation|
What can you do to ensure your content is accessible by everyone? Adopt and follow standards to help designers deal with the variety of technologies. Writing valid HTML is the designer’s job; rendering content appropriately is the browser’s. I realize that chasing down ever quirk between the various browsers is often not realistic. In this case do the best job possible or you could possible determine the user’s browser agent and deny access if they come from an unsupported agent. I personally would never do this, but it is an option you may consider.
The best thing you can do is familiarize yourself the WC3 Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). The techniques provide by the WAI are widely accepted as the industry standard and provide clear direction on how to achieve accessibility. In fact, at the core of WAI I recommend the following:
- Provide equivalent alternatives to auditory & visual content.
- Don’t depend on color alone.
- Use markup and style sheets correctly.
- Create tables that can be used by accessible technology.
- Use W3C technologies and guidelines.
- Provide context and orientation information.
- Provide clear navigation.
So what are you waiting for? It is not as difficult as you may think and remember no one is perfect and if you follow the direction from the WC3 Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) you will quickly find yourself on the path to accessibility.