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In our world of a technology the internet becomes necessary to everyone. It contains all information you need from different resources and provides you with different services such as a searching for information apply for a job, reading news or articles, view a video or using an email to connect with other people and other services. To achieve all these services you must able to access web content by using a mouse or the keyboard to typing what you want to know and then you will get everything you want quickly. So if you able to use a mouse, type what do you want to know as a keyword and able to see what will appear in the screen to read it or hear a video. In other words, if you don't have problem with seeing, hearing, using a mouse or any disabilities prevent you to using the internet. You can use access any website at any time. But there are some people cannot use the internet and access websites without the dependent upon the others because their disabilities such as the people with a visual, a hearing, a motoring and other problems. The designers and developers of website must make a web more accessible to allow people with a disability to access web content by different ways such us by using both keyboard and a mouse to access web content or convert text to an audio or allow the text to be readable by the screen reader and other assistive devices that allow the people especially the people with disabilities to access the website.
1-What is the Accessibility
Accessibility in a term of Web Design is refers to how easy for the people access and understand web content easily. The people with the difficult of using the internet and the people with disabilities need help to access and use website. So the website must easy to use, built in a simple form and accessible to ensure that every a person can be use it with take more regarding to people with disabilities by describing and explaining about how to use website.
In spite of, most of website designers or developers take care for people with disabilities when they are design websites but there are some websites are still inaccessible for the people with disabilities or people with difficulties of use websites. For example some sites can only access by using a mouse. If the access to website is only by using a mouse, means that the people who cannot use a mouse, they cannot access website. Some websites are allow to use keyboard to access web content by using the key Tab or Shift to move among web content. Using keyboard instead a mouse does not mean that web accessible to everyone because the people have different disabilities. For example some websites using graphics instead of text regardless for the people with blind disability or some websites use very few of a video regardless the people who are deaf. The make website accessible must provide the website with different ways to access web content which are compatible with different disabilities.
2- Web accessibility and how it implemented
2.1- Commitment and awareness
To make website accessible you should fully understand accessibility and how to implement in website. Website designers or developers should have awareness of the issues that are make website accessible to ability or disability people. There are many sites are inaccessible because a lack of awareness of web accessibility issues. The leadership of an organization must commit to web accessibility backed up by policy to make the content of the website accessible especially, to people with disabilities.
2.2- Technical support for high accessibility
To achieve high web accessibility the developer must learn technical skills or services to provide high web accessibility. There are many services that can help to achieve high accessibility such as web AIM, accessible site design, consulting and technical assistance and other services.
2.3-Standards and laws
The Webs Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) provides guidelines which are developed by (W3C) to set principles and rules of building content of web accessibility. WCAG has two versions: version 1.0 and 2.0. A version 2.0 has guidelines based on four principles:
Perceivable- The information of web content must easy to get into user's brain so that the user can process it. If the information of the web cannot get into brain. In this case, the web becomes inaccessible. To ensure that all information in web content is reachable to users the developer must provide assistive technologies to ensure that people with disabilities can access the content of web. For example the people with sight problem and also the developer can provides audio format to convert a text to audio or from audio to a text.
Operable- Providing different ways to access web by using alternative devices to allow all people with different disabilities to access web content such as keyboard, mouse ,mouth stick and other assistive devices.
Understandable- The content of web should be written in clear text with using simple language
Robust - Create web content according to last technologies being used.
3- The people with difficulties and disabilities on the web
3.1- Disability Types
The major types of disabilities that are must keep them in mind to make web accessibility:
Visual disabilities. Mean the people with seeing problems such as blindness, color blindness or low vision. The people with like these problems cannot access web unless there are some of assistive technologies. The web designer must provide ways to allow people with visual problem to access web content easily. For example using screen reader to reading the text.
Hearing. Other type of disabilities that website designer must take it in mind when he design website the people with hearing problem such as deaf.
Physical disabilities. Can include people who have weakness of movement limbs or the people with muscular control problems. All these problems can affect of using a mouse. The people with a motor disabilities must provide them a mouse, keyboard and other equipments which are much matched with their disabilities such as a head-mouse, head-pointer, mouth-stick and other equipments that are help them to access and get information on a website.
Cognition disabilities. Can include people with mental processes problems such as memory, attention, focus on or understanding language, take decision and learning.
4- Principles of Accessible Design
There are some principles must take into account for accessibility of the websites.
1-Provide alternative text. One of the major important things in web content is to provide alternative text especially, for images used in the web content. This text must be equivalent for an image to explain what the image means and it contains. It allows for people with disabilities such as people who are blind that are use screen reader to read content of the website.
2- Provide appropriate table headers for data. Typically tables are used to organize data so the data tables should have headers to allow people who are use screen reader to understand the data table easily.
3- Make sure that all users can easy to complete and submit all forms.
There are many kinds of forms and each a form requires information to be filled and submitted. Like apply for job or to register for courses and other forms. To fill the form successfully required mention of which elements of a form are necessary to be filled by using labels associated with each element refer to which fields of form are required to be filled to make sure the user can submits the form without errors. Label the elements of a form allows people who are used screen reader to know which elements of the form must focus or must be fill. By using the word (required) with different color or style such as (italicized, bold and other styles). Or by using the asterisk to identify these fields of form are required to fill. For example
First name (required)
4 -keyboard accessibility of links. The link must be access by use both a mouse and keyboard because some people cannot use a mouse to access a link because their disabilities. The keys in keyboard allow users to access a link without using a mouse. For example the key Enter allows user to select a link and to jump from link to another link we can use the key Tab. In other word, using keyboard make easy to access a link.
Provide website with method (skip). To makes website easy to use and an accessible. You must provide some methods that allow users to skip the elements that are repeated on the web pages. All of these can performed as the follow (skip to main content), (skip to next page) or (skip to final step). In some website we require to pass long list of links for reach to the main content, this way may be acceptable to users who are use a mouse without any trouble while what about the people who cannot use a mouse or the people who are use screen reader to listen to contents of web. In this case, they are needed to pass long list of links to reach the main content. So the idea of using (skip navigation) is to makes web more accessible especially for people who are use keyboard or screen reader to reach directly to the main content without waiting for listen to long list of links.
Carefully using color to convey meaning. The color must implement on the website properly with regard people who have colorblind. The web content must the color that is less effect for blind people. The color red and green are more affected to people with red-green color blindness and there is evidence refers to these people have difficult to differentiate between the color red and green are seem to them as yellow.
The content of web must have been written clearly, easy to read and understandable. The appearance of text in the website must be clear by select appropriate font style by using CSS (cascading style sheets). There are some issues must keep in mind when you select font style such as font sizes. The font size must be simple and readable font with avoid of using small font sizes and limit of using bold, italics and text with all capital letters.
5- Example about website accessibility.
Let us examine this website (http://www.fcho.co.uk/main.cfm) to see how website accessibility is made and at which degree of accessibility achieved.
Figure 1- Is a website for (First Choice Homes Oldham). FCHO is a house association in Oldham. I have choice this website because it has good accessibility that allows to people with disabilities to access web content easily without the difficulties
This website allows the users to enlarge or resize the size of the text to allow the people with visual problem to see and read web content without any difficulties. At the top of a right hand side of this website contains text size with small letter (a) and capital letter (A). The small letter (a ) refers to small size and allows user to reduce the size of words in the web content and the letter ( A) refers to large size and allows the users to enlarge the size of words in the web content. This website provided with four text sizes. You can choose by which size you want to read web content. Also you can change the background color of the web if the current background color prevents you from see the web content properly. There are four background colors are available in this web. This website contains (site map) that provides users with a numbered list of web content arranged in order. Each a number of list has a header and sub-headers. A site map allows the users who are use the screen reader to read web content and access directly to the parts of web content. The figure2 below shows a numbered list of web content.
The figure 3 below shows this website provides users with a list of quick links and each link provided with a picture or symbol and text refers to what the link contains.
The figure 4 below shows FCHO website provides users with different languages, the user can use either a mouse or keyboard to select by which language he want to read web content. After selecting language every single word in the web content will automatically translate to selected language. Providing the website with different languages makes it more accessible and allows user to read web content in his language.
This website has a little weakness in a translation. In the figure below when I change the website language from English into my language Arabic. I have seen some texts or words do not make sense when the language changed into Arabic. This weakness of translation may cause confuse to users when read the text. The designer should choose perfect dictionary to ensure that the translation of the web content understandable to users.
The best website is to be accessible allows to all the people to use it. The website designers must design website based on principles that are making website no limit but it is easy to use especially, by people with disabilities. The developers of website their aims to make website accessible, so when they are design website there are some issues must keep in mind that allow the users to access web content easily and allow to people with disabilities to use assistive devices such as (screen reader, mouse with stick and others) to help them to access web content. The web regards one of the most important technologies that provide ability or disability users with information better than others technologies. Web site allows users to get and access information in different ways, so website now become the best source of information for all people.