The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 requires most people to begin considering accessibility to all people regardless of ability, not to mention equal footing in the public arena including the employment sector. So what does web accessibility have to do with any of that, and furthermore, what is web accessibility?
Since the World Wide Web was introduced to the general public some 20 years ago, and particularly with the spread of wireless technologies such as smart phones in the past nine years, technology has engulfed just about every part of our lives at work and at home. Major changes in society happen so slowly to the point that we can rarely remember what it was like before. I have difficulty remembering a time when cars only had manual windows, much less a time when I stayed up after 10:00 p.m. just for the heck of it and was able to report to work the next day with no problem!
Since the web has become such an integral factor in employment, education, health care, religion, and even recreation; it’s important that we understand how accessible the web may or may not be for individuals, including those with disabilities. Many of us have most likely never thought about how a person who is blind or has low vision might interact on the web; or perhaps even an individual who does not have the finger dexterity to type on a keyboard.
It is essential that all people, regardless of ability, have equal access and opportunity to interact on the web, which is why simple methods can be utilized for the purpose of making websites more accessible. According to the Web Accessibility Initiative (WIA), “an accessible Web can also help people with disabilities more actively participate in society.”
WIA has developed guidelines and techniques that describe accessibility solutions for web developers to use. In fact, these guidelines are considered to be the international standard for web accessibility. Other essential components can be found on this website.
Each website should have minimal accessibility features that collectively help make the web as a whole more accessible. The Implementation Plan for Web Accessibility has basic steps that are recommended for all web projects.
When developing or re-developing a website for accessibility, evaluation tools can help identify possible problems that need to be resolved. Along with human evaluation, there are online evaluation tools that can also help in the process.
Workforce Solutions supports web accessibility by having an accessible workstation in each of its offices. The workstation includes assistive technologies that can help users with a disability interact with the employment sector effectively. Some examples include the JAWS screen reader, MAGIC screen magnifier, a track-ball mouse, and large-print keyboard just to name a few.
These are a few basic tools that can be used in order to improve web accessibility. Future blog entries will include additional tools to help with web accessibility that are relatively easy to implement in your personal and professional life.
See you at work!
David Spears is a member of the Workforce Solutions Navigator team for the Texas Gulf Coast Region. Combining training and education to real world examples, David brings personal and professional experience with disabilities to the table in order to help job seekers with disabilities realize their potential. David has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Business Administration with over 20 years of experience in the business world.