Joe Clark: Accessibility · Design · Writing

Quick info on Web accessibility

Intro · Backgrounder · Findings · Responses · Downloads

People with disabilities can and do use the Web. Sometimes they do so with no modifications at all. Other times they use the same software functions anybody else could use, like making text bigger in a browser window.

Sometimes, though, disabled people use additional (or adaptive) technology to make their computer and browsers accessible.

There are other disability groups, like people with dyslexia and other cognitive disabilities and colourblind people, but this is just a sample list.


There are several international standards for Web accessibility. You don’t have to guess or make it up as you go along; there are rules you can follow. The main set of standards is the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (published by the W3C WAI), but some countries (and some sectors, like governments) have their own standards.

What can creators of Web sites do?

Web developers can follow accessibility guidelines, or just become educated on what it means to create an accessible Web site and work from there. (A site isn’t necessarily inaccessible because it doesn’t comply with guidelines.) It helps hugely to test a site with actual people with disabilities to make sure what works in theory works in practice.

My role

I used to work in Web accessibility, but I don’t really do that anymore. (I still keep up with the topic, and as this project attests, sometimes I actually do work in the field.) I wrote the book Building Accessible Websites (New Riders, 2002), which is a bit outdated but is still useful as a reference work. My interest and work in accessibility go back about 30 years.

Posted: 2010.02.22

You were here: HomeAccessibilityWeb accessibility
Vancouver Olympics Web sites are inaccessible to disabled people → Backgrounder

Homepage: Joe Clark Homepage: Joe Clark Media access (captioning, Web accessibility, etc.) Graphic and industrial design Journalism, articles, book