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Everything About Accessibility

Accessibility is increasingly becoming an essential element in the design and development of Web applications. In this article, we will discover how accessibility can affect and improve your online business.

At the end of the 90's, most sites consisted of dispersed information and graphics, with the main purpose of pleasing the eye. Rather than providing a service or providing specific content, it was more important to call attention to the randomly-arranged information using movement and colour (i.e. the famous gif animations).

The user's mouse cursor was thought of as being a shotgun that fired in the direction of everything that moved. However, the days of communication practically being an encrypted language have ended.

The start of the "Google era" saw Information Technology professionals beginning to respond to the actual needs of web surfers. This means of communication has to be adjusted to the needs of the users; never the opposite. The users want to have access to the information they are searching for, as quickly as possible, and at whatever cost.
"The largest commercial retailers realized that the key to success is found in addressing the needs of all potential buyers; in the same place, in an accessible way, and without any restriction or difficulty."

Accessibility on the web consists of determining the criteria that allows wider and more intuitive access to specific content. This results in immediate monetization of a world of website visitors.

Definition of accessibility

"Accessibility not only refers to giving people with disabilities access to activities that include products, services and information. It also includes the range of use for every group present in a specific population, and minimizing barriers as much as possible."

Accessibility is therefore the access of specific content for the largest and most diverse number of people available.

Difference between usability and accessibility

It's very common to see these two terms used together, but they actually represent slightly different concepts.

Usability primarily refers to the functionality of the various elements that make up a site and the experience they provide to the visitor.

Accessibility is dedicated to the method this content arrives to the user, and whether it consistently reaches the public that has different needs and requirements.

A navigation system can be functional without meeting the standards required to be referred to as accessible. However, the opposite is not the case, because the accessibility standards are, by nature, a functional operating framework.

The importance of accessibility in your online business

Maybe you're wondering if all of this is nothing more than just another expense in your project.

Accessibility makes total sense from a commercial perspective. When you go to a shopping centre, you certainly won't find a sign that only permits the entrance of people who are tall, skinny, or with good vision. Obviously, you won't find stores that deny the patronage of people with hearing difficulties or any physical disability.

It's necessary to have this perspective with regards to your site's accessibility, whether it has a commercial component in the form of an electronic store, or if it's just serving as a vehicle for collecting business contacts. If you're not using accessibility standards, you're losing money.

Some advantages of accessible sites:
  • They reach a greater number of people
  • They leverage your target market
  • They are more functional
  • They show your visitors that you are socially conscious
  • They are better to navigate on mobile networks


In light of all this, it is very important for us to address the various types of limitations that your visitors may have, and to take concrete measures to ensure are able to access all of your site's content.

What kind of limitations are we talking about?

In definition, we aren't only speaking of physical or psychology limitations that can make accessing certain content difficult. We are also referring to technological limitations that make access to this information difficult, such as old browsers or slow internet connections.
  • Visual problems
  • Auditory problems
  • Cognitive and learning disabilities
  • Limited motor skills
  • Technological limitations

Accessibility standards

All these difficulties can be easily circumvented, since accessibility can be addressed in the early stages of planning your web project. If that is not your situation, you can still take measures to make your website accessible in an effective and fast way.

  • Making the font size readable and adjustable
  • Choosing contrasting colours
  • Adding ALT descriptions to images
  • Including Image replacements for Flash animations
  • Fast downloading of pages
  • Descriptive link titles
  • The structure of headings
  • Page titles
  • Access to the basic content

Recommended tools
http://udl.cast.org/bobby/
http://www.w3.org/WAI/ER/tools/complete