On Tuesday 16th
April 2013, Zheta International’s Head of
Development Steven James McLean went to MCAST to give a presentation on Web
Accessibility, as part of the ‘How I Use the Web’ event, organised by SpeakOut!
This event explored how people with accessibility issues and disabilities use the web every day, discussing what can be done to allow these persons to access information on the web with ease. The event mentioned how website designers and developers themselves should consider everything from colour through to CAPTCHA codes and content to facilitate their usage for a wide range of disabilities from mild colour-blindness to paralysis, cognitive impairment, auditory and visual impairments.
In today’s society we are driven by technology, and with around 25% of persons worldwide burdened with some kind of disability, this large minority should not be limited in what they can access and understand. As technology advances so does the web, using ever more complex structures, yet it is simplifying these that can provide advantages to those with accessibility issues.
For those with disabilities, technology can often create barriers instead of opportunities, and so it is vital to consider all users, from the young and old to the computer advanced, to beginners, and to empathise with those who may not view or comprehend the web in the same way that we do.
The key aspects of usability and accessibility were highlighted:
The extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction in a specified context of use.
Apart from people who have a physical impairment or learning disability, Web Accessibility also incorporates speech browsers, out-of-date software or missing plug-ins, visitors with slow or limited access to Internet, text-only browsers, access in noisy or low-light environments.
The WAI (Web Accessibility Initiative) is a working group within the W3C, created in 1997, which deals with making the web content accessible to people with disabilities, through conducting education, researching, developing tools to accurately evaluate and facilitate accessibility, and ensuring that web technologies support these needs.