What is Website Accessibility and how to implement inclusive practices
Website accessibility refers to the inclusive practice of removing barriers that prevent interaction with, or access to websites, by people with disabilities. Please see interactive Google Slide show at the end of the article.
Major Categories of Disability Types
Hearing: Deafness and hard-of-hearing
Cognitive: Learning disabilities, distractibility, inability to remember or focus on large amounts of information
Visual: Blindness, low vision, color-blindness
Motor: Inability to use a mouse, slow response time, limited fine motor control
Each of the major categories of disabilities requires certain types of adaptations in the design of web content. Most of the time, these adaptations benefit nearly everyone, not just people with disabilities.
Almost everyone benefits from helpful illustrations, properly-organised content, and clear navigation. Similarly, while captions are a necessity for deaf users, they can be helpful to others, including anyone who views a video without audio.
Falling Short of the Web’s Potential
Despite the web’s great potential for people with disabilities, this potential is still largely unrealised.
For example, some sites can only be navigated using a mouse, and only a very small percentage of video or multimedia content has been captioned for the Deaf. What if the internet content is only accessible by using a mouse? What do people do if they can’t use a mouse? And what if web developers use graphics instead of text? If screen readers can only read text, how would they read the graphics to people who are blind?
People with disabilities access and navigate the Web in different ways, depending on their individual needs and preferences. Sometimes people configure standard software and hardware according to their needs, and sometimes people use specialised software or hardware that help perform certain tasks.
Software or hardware that people with disabilities use to improve interaction with the web. These include screen readers that read aloud web pages for people who cannot read text, screen magnifiers for people with some types of low vision, and voice recognition software and selection switches for people who cannot use a keyboard or mouse.
Techniques that people with disabilities use to improve interaction with the web, such as increasing text size, reducing mouse speed, or turning on captions. Adaptive strategies include techniques with standard software, mainstream browsers, or with assistive technologies.
Disability Statistics Australia
Over 4 million people in Australia have some form of disability. That’s 1 in 5 people.
19% of men, and 18% of women have disability. 43% of people over 55 years have one or more disabilities. 2.2 million Australians of working age (15 – 64 years) have disability.
People with disability are twice as likely to be in the bottom 20% of gross household incomes.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers 2012.
Content is easier to see and read
- Distinguishable content is easier to see and hear. This includes:
- Color is not used as the only way of conveying information or identifying content
- Default foreground and background color combinations provide sufficient contrast
- Text is resizable up to 200% without losing information, using a standard browser
- Images of text are resizable, replaced with actual text, or avoided where possible
- Users can pause, stop, or adjust the volume of audio that is played on a website
- Background audio is low, or can be turned off, to avoid interference or distraction
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