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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? Why is Web accessibility 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
Internet is a globally used system of computer networks which are interconnected, uses the usual internet protocols IP/TCP for serving unlimited numbers of users worldwide. It conveys a wide range of information resources and services, such as inter-linked hypertext documents of World Wide Web (WWW), structure 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." (Anon., 2005)
There are different kind of disabilities like blindness or low vision due to old age, Colour Blindness, Physical disabilities, which prevents these users to access the web like normal users, these user may require to use the screen reader in order to browse the internet, good colour combination, motion mouse etc.
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.
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.
The web potential about the use of internet is still unrealized for the people with disabilities. For example there are many websites which can be used by mouse and have very less videos or media content for deaf users. What if the mouse is only use for the access of internet content? What if the user is not able to use the mouse?
Web accessibility even helps normal users. Like, the important principle of web accessibility, to design the website that is flexible to meet the requirements of different users. This flexibility also helps normal users in different conditions, like users having slow internet connection, users with temporary ill health like fractured 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
About 20% of the world population suffer from different kind of disability. The major type of disabilities are:
This involves Blindness, Colour-blindness, and low vision
Inability to move mouse, partial motor control, slow reaction time
Deafness, low hearing power
Problem in Learning, disability to focus or concentrate on any sort of information
A speech disability means difficulty creating 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.
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 fulfil 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
On 23 Aug 2004 operators of Ramada.com & Priceline.com faced investigation held by New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer against web accessibility and paid fine of 77,500$ and were order to improve the website accessibility.
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
This version of web content accessibility Guidelines deeply focused on the, important techniques for achieving accessibility, which was specifically related to HTML.
(Anon., 2005)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.
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, when it is access by the user, it should deliver the same function as auditory or visual content.
Don't depend on colour only make sure, the typescript and pictures, graphs etc. used are clear when it is watched black and white.
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.
Confirm the accessibility of webpages with new skills or 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.
Make sure that user edge should works on the principle of accessibility 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 practise temporary accessibility solutions 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 present guidelines of W3C technologies are for numerous causes:
W3C technologies contain "built-in" accessibility structures.
Confirm that accessibility problems are covered through the design stage.
W3C terms are settled in an exposed, manufacturing process.
Make sure to offer background and direction information to assist users in order to understand difficult pages.
Ensure to provide reliable navigation tools like navigation bars, site maps, spell check etc. which will help to increase accessibility, that what they are looking for at a site.
Make sure to keep pages as simple and clear as possible so that will be more easily readable and understandable by the users.
Web Accessibility Assessment Tools
Web Accessibility assessment tools are the software programs and online services which support the developer to fix if the website is accessible or not. Web accessibility assessment tools can help to decrease the time even the effort needed doing the assessments, these tools support the users avoiding accessibility obstacles, fixing and refining the overall website quality.
These tools can assist the users in the following ways
It determines the conformance of a website accessibility instructions which can be implemented automatically.
Support critics in performing accessibility check which is essential to be rechecked manually.
There different types of validation tools available online for example Total Validator, WDG HTML Validator, Cynthia, VI Scheck, Check My Colour, 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.
Visual (Clark, 2002)
Screen Reader is a software which benefits 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 colour, 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.
Users with small hearing problems can use sound amplification instruments or a high powered speakers. They can even use transcripts or flashing notes.
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.
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.
For website analysis I have used Apex Alarm ( (Anon., n.d.)Website. After analysing 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 colour contrast is not selected by the W3C Standards the website is really dark in background, fonts, tabs.
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.
Web accessibility means disable people use web like the normal web users.
Web offers independence and freedom. If a web site is not created with web accessibility in mind, it may eliminate large number of population that outlook to achieve greater from the internet. The UK government is working hard to implement web accessibility standards, which means websites should be written and maintained in a way so they do not discriminate users with disabilities. Different techniques can be used to make website more accessible like keeping the appropriate colour 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 screen reader, 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 influence its full prospective for the users with disabilities, web designers need to promise that they will always design websites with keeping accessibility in mind. Failure to do so will risks revolving a revolutionary solution into another obstacle in the lives of disable users.