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Statistics from several sources have shown that more than thirty percent of the Web public is elderly or people with various types of disabilities. Millions of people have disabilities that affect their use of the Web. The Web is an increasingly important resource in many aspects of life: education, employment, government, commerce, health care, recreation, and more. It is essential that the Web be accessible in order to provide equal access and equal opportunity to people with disabilities.
Web accessibility refers to the practice of making websites usable by people of all abilities and disabilities. When sites are correctly designed, developed and edited, all users can have equal access to information and functionality. For example, when a site is coded with semantically meaningful HTML, with textual equivalents provided for images and with links named meaningfully, this helps blind users using text-to-speech software and/or text-to-Braille hardware.
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When text and images are large and/or enlargeable, it is easier for users with poor sight to read and understand the content. When links are underlined (or otherwise differentiated) as well as coloured, this ensures that colour blind users will be able to notice them. When clickable links and areas are large, this helps users who cannot control a mouse with precision. When pages are coded so that users can navigate by means of the keyboard alone, or a single switch access device alone, this helps users who cannot use a mouse or even a standard keyboard. When videos are closed captioned or a sign language version is available, deaf and hard of hearing users can understand video. When flashing effects are avoided or made optional, users prone to seizures caused by these effects are not put at risk. And when content is written in plain language and illustrated with instructional diagrams and animations, users with dyslexia and learning difficulties are better able to understand the content. When sites are correctly built and maintained, all of these users can be accommodated while not impacting on the usability of the site for non-disabled users.
The needs that Web accessibility aims to address include:
  • Visual: Visual impairments including blindness, various common types of low vision and poor eyesight, various types of colour blindness;
  • Motor/Mobility: e.g. difficulty or inability to use the hands, including tremors, muscle slowness, loss of fine muscle control, etc., due to conditions such as Parkinson's Disease, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, stroke;
  • Auditory: Deafness or hearing impairments, including individuals who are hard of hearing;
  • Seizures: Photoepileptic seizures caused by visual strobe or flashing effects.
  • Cognitive/Intellectual: Developmental disabilities, learning disabilities (dyslexia, dyscalculia, etc.), and cognitive disabilities of various origins, affecting memory, attention, developmental "maturity," problem-solving and logic skills, etc.
Web accessibility depends on several components of Web development and interaction working together, including Web browsers, assistive technologies, and Web content. Making a Web site accessible can be simple or complex, depending on many factors such as the type of content, the size and complexity of the site, and the development tools and environment. Many accessibility features are easily implemented if they are planned from the beginning of Web site development or redesign.
A myth surrounding website development is that building accessible and inclusive pages is expensive, they have to be dull and boring, and they have to be written for the lowest common denominator - this is not the case!
Fullestop.co.uk builds high-quality websites by adopting a consistent set of international technical standards, the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) guidelines for Web content, authoring tools, browsers and media players that drive more rapid progress on Web accessibility, and makes the design and development of accessible Web sites more efficient. With our expertise (proper planning in the structure of the site, from a design perspective), you can still achieve even the most complex look and structure of the website while keeping the integrity of accessibility standards.
To make a website inclusive, there needs to be alternatives to support people and systems with differing abilities. This is not just an issue for the disabled. Some corporate systems are protected by firewalls that strip out active content. Accessibility is also an issue when communicating with a business audience. Integrating accessibility into your web development process efficiently creates websites that work effectively for more people in more situations - and that means more users.
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