Is Your Web Site Accessible?
Friday, February 1, 2008 4:17:22 AM
Whether you are a corporation, a municipality or a small business, if you do not provide an accessible web site, you are subject to fall into the ranks of Target. There are discrimination laws that cover web sites as well as your physical establishment.
I visited a web designer's web site that did not pass the Section 508 standards or the WAI standards. I saw a figure tonight that about 1% of the world's designers follow web standards and code for accessibility.
As more disability groups file lawsuits against owners of web sites, the more web designers and developers are going to have to follow standards. Austraila is big on web standards and accessibility and rightly so. If you have a disability and have a computer and cannot sucessfully access a web site of your choice, you are being discriminated against.
Many years ago cities had to cut out curbs and turn the cutout portion into a ramp for people in wheel chairs. Buildings had to have ramps built so wheelchair-bound patrons could enter their establishments. So what's different about a web site? Nothing. If you as a web designer or the owner of a web site do not provide access to your site to people with disabilities, than you are guilty of discrimination.
If you are a web designer that does not follow web standards and code your web sites for accessibility then you are also guilty of discrimination. I have been working more on making the two web sites I run to be accessible to all people. It has been a lot of hard work and long hours, but I'm closer than what I have been in the past.
Target is the example of what can happen if your web site is not accessible to all people, especially the blind. So far I have my personal site passing the Section 508 and WAI guidelines, but I need to add descriptions to the artwork displayed on the site. A lot more work, but to be compliant is what I strive for, that all designer's should strive for. Nothing like being named in a discrimination lawsuit because the work you did was sub-standard.
I told you a few weeks ago that this is a new year and that I would be covering web design and web development more this year. I might as well get the venom out at first. I am concerned that someone will end up like Target and they will lose it all because of bad coding and not following standards (recommendations).
Both of my web sites, http://www.studiokdd.com and http://alforddesigngroup.com pass the Section 508 and WAI guidelines. There is also a service online called TAW (Web Accessibility Test) it provides results on automatic accessibility errors and issues to check manually. There is also a stand-alone version of TAW that can be downloaded and used locally on your computer.
Then there is “Cynthia Says”; this online tool checks for Section 508 compliance plus WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) compliance. Also there is a tool that can be downloaded from IBM called aDesigner. This tool allows you to check how the page will look to those with visual impairments or are blind and using a screen reader.
These are some of the tools that a web designer needs in their tool kit. Without checking for compliance, you are putting yourself and your client at great risk to become another Target. Sure it takes a bit more effort to write solid code, but the benefits outweigh the consequences, plus your sites will be easier to maintain and change as needed.
My time is up; I thank you for yours.