Can’t imagine life without WWW? For the millions of people with disabilities in the world, the web is more than a mouse-click away. With most websites — including government sites — failing to provide even minimum levels of accessibility, equal opportunity for all is still far from a reality.
A report commissioned by the United Nations recently found that many of the websites tested met even the most basic accessibility standards for the disabled. “The results were very disappointing. It is important for commercial, legal and moral reasons that websites put in place a strategy for accessibility,” said Alex Metcalfe of Nomensa, the agency which tested leading websites in five different sectors across 20 countries for the UN.
In order to reach the minimum standards — tested against the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) — websites needed to provide adequate text descriptions for graphical content so that visually impaired people could ‘read’ pictures. They also didn’t follow industry web standards for programming code, meaning the foundations for web accessibility simply were not there.
But why don’t more firms keep accessibility in mind? Companies, especially those in e-commerce, just don’t realise the market potential. For just 10% more cost, they can increase access and improve bottomlines. Making a site accessible doesn’t mean replacing attractive graphics with an austere look and a big typeface. The aim is to formulate criteria so that organisations can make their web initiatives accessibility-standards compliant. Some simple changes — such as describing graphics and audio using text, allowing the user to increase typesize or change background — can make a site friendly to those with disabilities.
Till then, small tasks like making a railway reservation or checking their bank balance will be out of bounds for the millions who are disabled in the country. Everyone of us should strive and put in our effort to make it possible.
Iridium Interactive Ltd My Link