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Last Updated: Mar 31, 2017 URL: http://enact.sonoma.edu/udl Print Guide RSS Updates

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What is Web Accessibility?

Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can use the Web. More specifically, it means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web, as well as contribute to the Web.

Web accessibility encompasses all disabilities that affect access to the Web, including visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, and neurological disabilities. The document "How People with Disabilities Use the Web" describes how different disabilities affect Web use and includes use scenarios.

Millions of people have disabilities that affect their use of the Web. Currently most Web sites and Web software have accessibility barriers that make it difficult or impossible for many people with disabilities to use the Web. As more accessible Web sites and software become available, people with disabilities are able to use and contribute to the Web more effectively.

Web accessibility also benefits people without disabilities. For example, a key principle of Web accessibility is designing Web sites and software that are flexible to meet different user needs, preferences, and situations. This flexibility also benefits people without disabilities in certain situations, such as people using a slow Internet connection, people with "temporary disabilities" such as a broken arm, and people with changing abilities due to aging.

 

Making Your Website Accessible

Making a Web site accessible can be simple or complex, depending on many factors such as the type of content, the size and complexity of the site, and the development tools and environment.

Many accessibility features are easily implemented if they are planned from the beginning of Web site development or redesign. Fixing inaccessible Web sites can require significant effort, especially sites that were not originally "coded" properly with standard XHTML markup, and sites with certain types of content such as multimedia.

The document "Implementation Plan for Web Accessibility" lists basic steps for addressing accessibility in Web projects. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and techniques documents provide detailed information for developers.

 

Checking for Web Accessibility

When assessing web accessibility there are a number of "checks" that can take place, whether human or automated.  The following is an outline from WebAIM, leading to explanations of human checks, as well as using the Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool (WAVE).

  1. Human Checks
    1. Use a checklist
    2. Disable styles and linearize tables
    3. Check alternative text
    4. Verify color and contrast
    5. Test content scaling
    6. Check keyboard accessibility
    7. Evaluate form accessibility and usability
    8. Test with a screen reader
    9. Valid HTML and CSS
  2. Testing with WAVE
    1. About WAVE
    2. Using WAVE
    3. WAVE Icons
    4. Report Views
 

Web Accessibility for Designers

The focus of web accessibility is often on web development – the things that happen in HTML, CSS, or JavaScript after a site has been designed visually. Optimal accessibility should start much earlier, as part of the visual design process. WebAIM has created an infographic that highlights a few important principles of accessible design. Select the image to view the full infographic and text version.  You can also view the accessible web design principles in an accessible text version.

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