Making your web content accessible can be an intimidating process. Though it may initially seem complex, integrating accessibility into every step of your design and development process will help you to make better, more usable, and legally compliant web content.
This site offers an introduction to some of the important concepts and tools that every web designer and developer should understand to ensure that their content is accessible to all users.
According to the American Community Survey, individuals with disabilities make up over 12.7% of the U.S. population in 2013. In higher education, 10.8% of undergraduate students and 7.8% of graduate students reported that they had disabilities as of the 2007-2008 Census, a number that only continues to grow. In order to offer equal access to all students, online educational content must be accessible to individuals with all sorts of disabilities."Refreshable Braille display". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 address web accessibility requirements, particularly for educational institutions. Both of these laws strive to offer individuals with disabilities equal access to a wide variety of resources and services and this includes access to information and services available on the internet. While the law in this area is still not completely settled, a number of companies have been sued over inaccessible web content.Photo by Mr. Kjetil Ree. CC BY-SA 3.0.
Though the primary purpose of web accessibility features is to ensure that individuals with disabilities have equal access to online content, these features also offer a better experience for other users. The same features that ensure that your site complies with accessibility requirements also make it easier for users who are not native English speakers, those who are elderly, and users who prefer to use the web content in a variety of different ways. Web accessibility is just the first step on a path that can continue to incorporate the principles of Universal Design to ensure that your site is welcoming to all users.