Making the Web accessible to people with disabilities

Billions of people worldwide need captions, pages that don't flash, or voice recognition when they use the Internet. Guidelines from the World Wide Web Consortium could make it possible.
Written by Janet Fang, Contributor

What sort of support do you need to make the web more accessible to billions of people around the world with disabilities? MIT News reports.

  • If somebody is deaf or hard of hearing, they need captions.
  • If somebody has a photosensitive seizure disorder, they need the page not to flash at them.
  • If somebody has a visual disability, they may need alternative text for the images on a page or may need to be able to smoothly enlarge the page.
  • For someone with a disability that affects their hands, they may need to smoothly navigate through the page using voice recognition, or a head mouse, or an eye-gaze system.
  • For someone with a cognitive disability, they may benefit from consistent navigation within a website.

After the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which develops technological standards for the Web, sought to make the benefits of the Web available not only to people in different countries with different technological resources, but to people with disabilities.

In 2008, the W3C released the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. This week, the International Standards Organization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) announced their endorsement of those guidelines.

And that’s important because for the information-technology industry, it’s necessary to have a consistent set of requirements.

MIT’s Judy Brewer, who directs W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), which developed WCAG, explains:

The more organizations adopt a unified standard, the more software developers -- authoring-tool developers, in particular -- realize, “Ah, if I build support for production of WCAG-2.0-conformant content into my authoring tools, more customers will be interested in buying those new tools.”

For web developers, “How to Meet WCAG 2.0” is a customizable quick reference with hundreds of techniques.

[Via MIT News]

Image: WWW logo by Robert Cailliau via Wiki

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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