Web and Accessibility
“Web Accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate and interact with the Web, and they can contribute to the web. Web accessibility also benefits others, including older people with changing abilities due to aging.” – W3C Web Accessibility Initiative
The term web accessibility originated to address the issues of access and impairments and to provide equal access and opportunity for the people with impairments using web based applications. The term web accessibility is also known as E-accessibility, digital accessibility and also online accessibility. Disabilities or impairments doesn’t just mean a person with wheelchair. Web accessibility comprises of various disabilities. Following are the major categories of the impairments and their symptoms2.
- Visual: Blindness, low vision, color‐ blindness
- Hearing: Deafness and hard‐of‐hearing
- Motor: Inability to use a mouse, slow response time, limited fine motor control
- Cognitive: Learning disabilities, inability to remember or focus on large amounts of information
Why Web Accessibility Matters
According to World Health Organization, over a billion people worldwide live with some kind of disability and 285 million have visual impairments (39 million are blind and 246 have low vision).
According to US Census report, nearly 1 in 5 people have some kind of disability. Around 59 million people in US have disabilities of some sort 5. These disabilities mainly are low vision, blind, deafness, hard of hearing, mobility, cognitive and learning. Also, according to Census Bureau, 7 million to 8 million people will be over age 85 and 214,000 will be over age 100 by 2020.
Disabilities are not necessarily from birth, it could be temporary as well. Web accessibility matters because there is a need to design interactions for the digital interfaces in such a way that should not restrict any sort of participation.
My research has determined that there are three main aspects to the awareness for the need for web accessibility. I have determined the following things: 1) Accessibility is mostly driven by the standards, federal laws and regulations for e.g., WCAG 2.0 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines); 2) The issue of accessibility generally comes at the last stages of solution development cycles, typically after usability studies; and 3) the language and style of the standards and guidelines are very complex and technical, which discourage designers from incorporating accessibility at initial stages of design unless it is part of the requirements.
My projects are directed at facilitating designers and design students to understand two things. One is the broad concept of web accessibility and its importance. Second is how it can be embedded in the UX design process at a very early stage. My ultimate goal is to use different mediums (website, posters and videos) to create awareness and educate designers in an interesting and engaging ways.