Joe Clark: Media access

Updated 2004.10.13

Web Essentials ’04 notes

What follows are notes from a presentation made 2004.09.30 in Sydney at the Web Essentials ’04 conference.

Day 1: The people in the neighbourhood

Everyone has a vague idea what a Web user looks like. Accessibility tells us there are many more kinds of users.

My presentation today focuses on the disabilities people have that affect their use of the Web and the kind broad steps we take to remove barriers.

The old audience

Which kind of accessibility?

What is accessibility?

Why be accessible?

Many of you will have read or heard of the list of reasons to make Web sites accessible many times before. So I’m gonna start with a reason you probably will not have heard before.

Because you can
It’s technically simple and inexpensive in the majority of cases to make most sites reasonably accessible to most disabled people. And there are things we can still do even in the exceptional cases where it isn’t simple or inexpensive
Because you have to
The Disability Discrimination Act has been interpreted to state that inaccessible Web sites are an infringement on minority rights. Nobody’s passed an outright law yet requiring you to be accessible, but if somebody filed a complaint, you’d probably lose. It’s happened already!
Because it makes you money
Not all people with disabilities are poor or underemployed. One example is senior citizens, who often have considerable disposable income. People won’t buy your product or service if they can’t use your site
Because of good public service
The public sector has an obligation to serve the public. You aren’t doing that if the only people you’re serving are people without disabilities
Because you’re mature
Accessibility is a component of the growing movement toward Web standards. It’s a more mature method of making genuine Web sites as opposed to Internet Explorer sites

What isn’t accessibility?

Some facts about people with disabilities

Disabled groups

Now let’s run through the major disability groups and what needs to be done in Web development to accommodate them.

Visual impairment

Hearing impairment

Mobility or dexterity impairment

Cognitive impairment