About What Is Web Accessibility Computer Science Essay

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Abstract

This report is about what is web accessibility. What are the common disabilities in the web users and how they can use internet in their daily life like other normal users? This is why Web accessibility was invented.

This report also states about the different laws and standards or guidelines set by the different governments worldwide to support web accessibility not only in HTML but also in non-HTML format like pdf file, word documents etc.

It also contain the solutions available for the disabled users online like different kinds of software etc.

This report also shows the different between good and bad accessible website on internet by comparing them with the World Wide Web accessibility laws

Table of Contents

Introduction

The internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks, uses the standard internet protocols IP/TCP to server billions of users worldwide. It carries a wide range of information resources and services, such as inter-linked hypertext documents of World Wide Web(WWW), infrastructure to support emails, social websites like twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc.

"Web Accessibility means that people with disabilities can use the Web. More specifically, web accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web, and that they can contribute to the Web. Web accessibility also benefits others, including older people with changing abilities due to aging."(From the W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI))

The common disabilities are blindness or low vision due to old age, Color Blindness, Physical disabilities, these user may require to use the screen reader in order to browse the internet, good color combination, motion mouse etc. These all are the few examples of disabilities in web users.

There are laws issued from different countries like USA, UK to support web accessibility, these laws focus on all kind of accessibility issues not only on disable users.

Web Accessibility

The billions of users surf internet on daily basis, now a day's business are built around internet so it become more important to make the internet more accessible to users falling in all the categories without putting any barriers or restrictions on it use. Despite the web's great potential for people with disabilities, this potential is still largely unrealized. 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?

As soon as you start asking these types of questions, you begin to see that there are a few potential glitches in the accessibility of the internet to people with disabilities. The internet has the potential to revolutionize disability access to information, but if we're not careful, we can place obstacles along the way that destroy that potential and which leave people with disabilities just as discouraged and dependent upon others as before.

Web accessibility also helps people without disabilities. Like, the main principle of web accessibility is to design the website that is flexible to meet the requirements of different users. This flexibility also helps people without disabilities in different situations, like people using slow internet connection, users with temporary disabilities like broken arm or hand where user are not able to use his or fingers to use keyboard or hand to use mouse, and users with aging which includes low vision , low hearing.

Accessibility not only benefits disable users but it also benefits the web site provider like if the website is properly accessible so the number of audience will increase, it will satisfy present and future legal requirements. Accessibility is the best way to make any website successful & earn reputation.

Types of Disabilities

Most studies show that about 20% (one fifth) of the world population have some kind of disability. The major Categories of disability types are:

Visual

This involves Blindness, Color-blindness, and low vision

Motor

Inability to move mouse, limited fine motor control, slow response time

Hearing

Deafness, low hearing power

Cognitive

Learning disabilities, distractibility, and inability to remember or focus on large amounts of information

Speech

A speech disability means difficulty producing speech that is recognizable by voice software in terms of loudness or clarity.

Age related disability

By aging people began to develop disabilities like low hearing, low vision problem.

Multiple Disabilities

Combinations of disabilities may decrease a user's flexibility in order to use accessibility information.

Laws and Standards

There are different kinds of laws and standard passed worldwide to support web accessibility the most popular laws are stated by United Kingdom, United States which are as fellows.

1. Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995

The DDA was introduced to fulfill the rights of disabled web users in the parts of employment, access to services available on web, checking out for buying and renting properties etc.

2. Special Education Needs and Disability Act (SENDA) 2001

The DDA did not cover education which meant the education sector did not have to worry about that the educational material is accessible to the disable students.

The Act was introduce to provide comprehensive enforceable civil rights for students with disabilities in pre and post education in o England, Wales and Scotland.

United States have even issued laws and standards to support web accessibility. The laws are as fellows.

1. Rehabilitation Act of 1973

2. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

3. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

4. Telecommunications Act of 1996

Those who discriminate the laws and guidelines issued by their respective country they will have to face the law. Few examples are mentioned below

In 23 Aug 2004 The operators of Ramada.com and Priceline.com have to pay 77,500$ fine and is order to improve their website accessibility to settle an investigation by New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer that contradicts a federal court ruling of 2002.

Another major corporation Disney is facing lawsuit over it websites accessibility. According to press release (posted on Feb 15, 2011) the websites include audio and video which restricts the screen-reading software, it's not even keyboard accessible, and even the website contains flash content with no alternative text.

W3C Guidelines and Technical Aid (Anon., 1999)

By using W3C Guidelines making Web accessible is a responsibility of a web developer.

Different version of W3C Guidelines

There were two version of web accessibility principles or Guidelines were published

Version 1.0

The version 1.0 of web content accessibility Guidelines heavily focused on the important techniques for achieving accessibility, which was specifically related to HTML.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 was published and became a W3C recommendation on May 5, 1999. The three priority levels:

Priority 1: Web developers must satisfy these requirements; otherwise it will be impossible for one or more groups to access the Web content. Conformance to this level is described as A.

Priority 2: Web developers should satisfy these requirements; otherwise some groups will find it difficult to access the Web content. Conformance to this level is described as AA or Double-A.

Priority 3: Web developers may satisfy these requirements, in order to make it easier for some groups to access the Web content. Conformance to this level is described as AAA or Triple-A.

Version 2.0

The version 2.0 of web content accessibility guidelines emphases on the principles of accessibility, and presents techniques in distinct documents.

WCAG 1.0 & 2.0 Checklist

All images, image maps have appropriate, equivalent alternative text in the alt attribute of <img> tag.

Synchronized captions must be provided for web based videos like YouTube etc.

Sign language must provide for all kind of media content.

Reading and navigation must be intuitive and logical form.

Provide the content that, when it is presented to user, conveys essentially the same function as auditory or visual content.

Don't rely on colour alone make sure that text and graphics used are understandable when it is viewed without colour.

Make sure to use style sheets with proper structural elements.

Use mark-up which facilitates pronunciation or text, use natural language which should be clear.

Create tables that transforms easily when access by browsers and other user agents.

Ensure that accessibility of pages with new technologies.

Make sure that if your website has any moving, scrolling or auto-updating pages user should be able stop paused or stopped it whenever it's required.

Ensure that user interface should follows principle of accessible design that is keyboard operability, self-voicing, device-independent, convertibility into other format etc.

Use the feature that enables the user to use different device according to their needs so the design should be device-independent.

Make sure to use interim accessibility solutions so that it should be operative on assistive technologies and older version of browsers with causing any difficulty to the user.

Use W3C technologies and guideline. The current guidelines of W3C technologies are for several reasons:

W3C technologies include "built-in" accessibility features.

Ensure that accessibility issues are covered during the design phase.

W3C specifications are developed in an open, industry process.

Make sure to provide context and orientation information to help users in order to understand complex pages.

Ensure to provide consistent navigation mechanisms like navigation bars, site maps etc. which will help to increase accessibility, that what they are looking for at a site.

Ensure to keep documents as simple and as clear as possible so that will be more easily readable and understandable by the users.

Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools

Web Accessibility evaluation tools are the software programs or online services which help the developer to determine if the website is accessible or not. Web accessibility evaluation tools can help to reduce the time and afford required doing the evaluations, these tools assist the users preventing accessibility barriers, repairing and improving the overall website quality.

The tools can assist the users in the following ways

It determines the conformance of a website accessibility checks which can be executed automatically.

Assist reviewers in performing accessibility check which need to be rechecked manually.

There different types of validation tools available online for example Total Validator, WDG HTML Validator, Cynthia, VI Scheck, Check My Color, WAVE.

These all tools specifically check for the Web Accessibility for the users with the disabilities either the website follows the W3C guideline for Web Accessibility.

Assistive Technologies

Visual (Clark, 2002)

The users with visual disability can use Screen Readers .Screen Reader is a software which helps the users to access web by speaking aloud the contain on the computer screen, it not only reads the web contain but also do desktop icon label, document, and tool bar reading for the user. Users can also use screen magnification software's which enlarge the image on the screen and also helps to adjust color, brightness and contrast according to the visibility requirement of the user. Some programs also allow users to magnify or enlarge image on the screen. The most common Screen Readers (JAWS, HAL, and Windows-Eyes), Speaking Browsers (IBM Home Page Reader), Screen Magnifiers (Magic, zoom text), and Braille display.

Hearing

Users with small hearing problems can use sound amplification instruments or a high powered speakers. They can even use transcripts or flashing notes.

Motor

There are different types of physical disabilities which prevents users from moving the mouse, or working with the keyboard therefore users need a system which can be based on voice system or on movement of other body parts, Like Replacement mice foot pedals trackballs can be used to direct mouse or special keyboards or eye-tracking software.

Cognitive

The users with cognitive and neuro-sensorial disabilities can access the web by developing simple system and then tested on users with cognitive disabilities to detect possible problems.

Website Analysis

For website analysis I have used Apex Alarm ( (Anon., n.d.)Website. After analyzing came to know firstly this website is heavy in size it take time in loading so for slow connection users it will take really long time to load. The color contrast is not selected by the W3C Standards the website is really dark in background, fonts, tabs.

C:\Users\Public\Pictures\Capture.JPG

The hyperlinks are not set properly its take long time can usual to open or load the next page. There is no option to link the software's used for disable users such as screen readers or magnification tools etc.

So it's a bed website and it does not fulfil the standards set by W3C for web Accessibility. The style sheet is not used properly. The alt attributes are not used for the image tab.

Conclusion

Web accessibility means people with disabilities use web like the normal web user.

The web offers so many opportunities to people with disabilities that are unavailable through any other medium. It offers independence and freedom. However, if a web site is not created with web accessibility in mind, it may exclude a segment of the population that stands to gain the most from the internet. The UK government is working hard to implement web accessibility standards, which means websites are required to be written and maintained such in a way so they do not discriminate against users with disabilities. Different techniques can be used to make website more accessible like keeping the appropriate color combinations, using tables, providing images, giving the option for increasing to font size etc. Different software can also be used for the disable users like for blind users screen reader can be used, users with hearing disability can use any sound amplifier instruments etc.

W3C is working on keeping the World Wide Web standards and have issued the Web Accessibility Guidelines which should be used by the developer or organization at the time of developing websites or software's.

For the Web to reach its full potential for people with disabilities, web developers must commit to always designing with accessibility in mind. Failure to do so risks turning a revolutionary solution into yet another barrier in the lives of people with disabilities.

This is why Web accessibility was invented.

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