Not to be confused with Usability, Accessibility is all about giving equal access to everyone.
It has become a bit of a buzz-word over the last few years, in all areas of society. In the U.K. for example, there is now legislation in place, which demands certain design specifications for all new buildings, i.e.
- Doorways must have a clear opening width 800mm
- Corridors must have a clear width 1.2m
- Door handles must be 1m from the ground
- Light switches are to be placed at 1.3m from the ground
- Power sockets must be between a height of 350-500mm
All this for a minority of the population. Isn’t is all just a little over-the-top?
Far from it. In fact, many reasons have made it vital.
In a similar way, we must now remember that the Internet is no longer a place just for nerds and geeks. Grandpa now has a Gmail account, and is selling antique clocks on eBay. It’s critical therefore, that everyone is catered for.
However, if most were honest, accessibility is still something that lies in a dark corner of our minds. As long as it works for the majority, then we’re happy.
Let’s be realistic too; it’s almost impossible to predict, or figure out how a site will display in every possible browser, in every possible screen size and resolution, and how each mind expects something to work.
In fact, why is it that web designers get all the blame when a site isn’t accessible in all browsers? Shouldn’t those behind Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc, all be forced into strict standards so that they all display the same?
That said, we should still be making more of an effort, but why don’t we?
1. Few Are Leading The Way
A lot of what we do comes down to peer pressure, and in the area of web accessibility, there really isn’t all that much. If there was more pressure to conform, it stands to reason that more would make the effort, or spend more money in bringing their sites up-to-scratch.
2. There Are No Complaints
If you’re not aware of a problem, it’s going to make it pretty difficult to rectify. Like I said, it’s nigh impossible to predict how something will work or display in every possible scenario, so we rely heavily sometimes on feedback. If there are no complaints, nothing is changed.
3. Our Tests Are Not Thorough
Making sure a site displays correctly in certain browsers and resolutions, is not where accessibility begins and ends. Do we make sure that the language is easy to understand? Do the anchor texts to hyperlinks make sense? Do all images have appropriate ALT tags?
I am as guilty as anyone, but by right, shouldn’t these things should be checked?
4. It’s No Fun
If it looks fine, and works well for the majority, there’s no fun in spending more time and money to work on something that, for the most part, no one will notice.
For example, many online publishers don’t want to be restricted to using actual words. They would rather write like they talk on the street.
Having to worry about how it’ll be interpreted by the hardware and software the disabled are using, is not what many are considering as they write.
5. There’s No (Immediate) Benefit
Just because someone takes the time to make their site more accessible, doesn’t mean they’re going to reap heaps of benefits. True, search engines will probably find it easier to index a more accessible site, but that doesn’t guarantee the number one spot, or even the first page.
If it’s going to cost someone more money to make their site accessible, they will be more likely to place that money into buying links, and other forms of advertising.
It would be nice to see more mainstream, and popular websites leading the way, placing pressure on everyone else to conform. If that doesn’t happen, it’s going to be a long, slow process before the Internet becomes truly accessible to everyone.
Posted By: IndoSourceCode