All posts tagged: Online Accessibility

#3 – The Need For Online Accessibility

Since its invention, the Internet has quickly grown from being a cutting edge tool for research and education to one of shared knowledge amongst the masses. In today’s fast paced interconnected world, it has become a vital part of everyday life, becoming even more so as technology advances. As the Internet has evolved from a luxury to a convenience to a necessity, so has the need for it to become accessible to everyone.

Individuals with disabilities also rely on the Internet throughout their daily lives. As the world continues to become increasingly digital, information is rapidly transitioned to electronic formats that computers and other communication devices can access.  Take printed newspapers for example; they posed a challenge to people who were blind, as well as individuals who had trouble physically holding or turning pages. Now, they are available online and digitally using accessible devices, as long as the organization’s website has been designed in a format that meets the current Accessibility Standards. This removes the barrier that previously existed, allowing people to independently keep up with local news in a format they can use.

If websites are not accessible, individuals with disabilities lose a convenient way of independently obtaining information. Many sites use images and flashy graphics, some have online games, and others have contests that require precise mouse clicks and timed actions. It is difficult for assistive technology devices to interpret this functionality, barring the users from equal participation. A site with tutorial videos which do not feature somebody describing the on-screen action, or a video with spoken content that is not conveyed visually or in text, prevents people with hearing or vision loss from being able to fully understand the message leaving many disabled persons at a distinct disadvantage.

There are other, more severe barriers resulting from poor accessibility. Some colleges and universities use online course management software designed without accessibility in mind. The relevant material in inaccessible images, audio only formats, non-standard buttons which do not respond to keyboard presses, unreasonable time constraints during tests, and animated content cause assistive devices to struggle with page focus.  These issues can prevent students with disabilities from independently completing their courses and obtaining good grades.

Online stores with poorly designed, inaccessible websites cause grief to disabled people as they are unable to complete their purchases. Inaccessible company websites make it difficult for some employees to be as productive as possible, which can result in them unjustly viewed as liabilities. Government forms and documents that are not accessible make it difficult for some to complete, requiring them to relinquish their privacy while somebody assists them with sensitive information.

All types of information lives on the Internet. To a person with disabilities, an inaccessible Internet is a barrier. Ensuring websites are accessible is the best way to ensuring that everybody can participate in today’s information-driven world.

#3 – The Need For Online Accessibility
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#2 – Accessibility Strategy and Assistive Technologies

The World Wide Web has become a universal part of everyday life. Whether at work, school, or home, many tasks are now difficult to complete without access to the internet. Registering for university, applying for a job, filing tax returns, or booking travel are just a few examples of tasks we complete using the Internet.

Because of the convenience and ease of accessing information, people from all walks of life are now connected. Many have varying needs and abilities and may obtain and interpret information using different senses and techniques. Consider the following examples:

#2 – Accessibility Strategy and Assistive Technologies
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#1 – What is Online Accessibility?

You’ve probably heard the term “accessibility” at some point. But what does it actually mean?

Accessibility brings to mind different things for different people. Some picture a building with a wheelchair ramp, button-controlled doors, and elevators. Some think of Braille menus at restaurants and signs with tactile print on them in hotels. Others think of fire alarms which light up and make noise, or closed captioning on their televisions. In all of these cases, there is the common theme of making aspects of life easier, or possible, for people with disabilities, giving them the same information and level of access as everybody else.

The word “accessible” is commonly defined as “easy to approach, reach, enter, speak with, or use.” The majority of the definitions don’t even mention disability, or people with special needs! At its core, accessibility refers to the ability to access something, which is, not so coincidentally, exactly what the word sounds like when spoken!

For the purposes of this, and future blogs, accessibility to the web will be discussed primarily in the context of people with disabilities. In today’s ever connected world of technology, accessibility refers to the ability of all people to connect, browse, understand, and interact with a website, program or device.

#1 – What is Online Accessibility?
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Creative Design & Website Accessibility

As an Accessibility Specialist, I often hear comments from graphic and web designers that the new Ontario legislated digital accessibility guidelines limit and restrict their creativity. Many graphic designers appear to feel frustrated, angry and unaccepting of the AODA and WCAG 2.0 Level A & AA guidelines. In Ontario we’re entering a new online landscape that is throwing a different set of challenges at the digital industry.

Creative Design & Website Accessibility
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