Author: Smruti Kar
What is web accessibility?
Web accessibility is all about making a website accessible to all Internet users irrespective of browsing technology used and physical disabilities. Anyone who accesses the web is not necessarily using latest browser available or all the available plug-ins. Therefore when any website is not providing any alternative to these user groups, it is not accessible to all Internet users. As far as business is concerned, an inaccessible website will definitely loose some potential visitors.
Again Internet is a public service and when any website is not accessible to everyone, it depriving a part of society to use its service.
This concept of “Accessibility” is wide spread and covers many more than web services. But I will stick to only web accessibility. Very often “accessibility” is confused with “usability” of a website.
More or less both have few things in common but still are very different. Its explanation is beyond the scope of this article, but I think this small example will do the job. Suppose a chocolate is kept on a very tall cupboard. To know its taste first you have to reach there or first see that the chocolate is there. So, any website has to be accessible to prove its usability.
The most common myth about accessibility is that it is for the disabled people only. Yes, it covers the disabled but not all about them. This belief is wide-spread because not everyone is aware of all the browsing technologies. Bellow is a list that covers few browsing technologies.
LYNX: It is the most widely used text browser that does not support images, tables, scripts and animation. LYNX download: www.vordweb.co.uk/standards/download_lynx.htm
WEB TV: Width of 560px and does not allow horizontal scrolling.
Hand held devices: Latest toy for rich group of Internet users. With today”s technology they have limited support for scripts and large images.
Slow connection(bellow 56kb): Usually the users turn off images to have faster load. So ,accessibility addresses all Internet users not only disabled people. Major accessibility curlprits : Here are some areas that are more prone to accessibility issues. Several other areas exist that should be taken care of while designing an accessible website.
Accessibility Testing: As I have been involved in accessibility testing for quite a few time, I can say from my experience that manual testing with assistance from automated tools is the best combination to test the accessibility of any website. Also “Accessibility Tool Bar” is a must have while performing accessibility testing.
Conclusion and Resources: For detailed explanation of the above topic you can go to my blog at smruti-bugfree.blogspot.com. The article “How accessible you are” describes web accessibility is detail . In that post I have provided all the resources and urls that I found helpful to understand and work on accessibility.