Instructional Presentation Handout
presented at the:
Teaching With Technology Conference, June 2002
Center for Innovations in Teaching and Technology Workshop, May 2002
Accessibility and the Internet: What you need to know
Teaching with Technology, 2002
Jennifer Light, Kim Hansen, Travis Chillemi
With the increase in user-friendly web design software on the market, almost anyone with a computer, and a place to put a website, can design their own web page in a matter of minutes. Even inexperienced computer users can put a digital picture or audio clip on a web page with free online tutorials or low-cost software. As confidence builds and skills improve, web pages become more sophisticated and websites may blossom into multimedia masterpieces. However, it is important to realize that there are a number of steps and procedures to follow to ensure that your site will be accessible to users with disabilities.
This issue becomes increasingly important for people who want to make their websites widely marketable and accessible to aging and diversely abled populations. As you become more acquainted with accessible web sites you will find that most useable sites also follow good design principles of navigation and information architecture, and graphic design. Therefore, creating accessible websites has a beneficial effect for all users, not just those who need the accessible features.
This interactive workshop will help you see what a site looks like from a disabled person’s viewpoint. It will present how to retrofit a site for accessibility under the 7 topics we use most often, and show some of the tools that are currently on the market to aid you in creating accessible websites.Designing for Accessibility
Making a totally accessible website takes commitment and education. It is time consuming to learn the advance features in web design software necessary to removing obstacles to accessibility. It takes energy and empathy to gain insight as to what a disabled person experiences viewing your site. Finally, it takes time to check your work and make sure the website is accessible.
Currently there is help in designing accessible websites. Since the federal government passed the 1998 Amendment to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation act of 1973, there are suddenly hundreds of websites addressing accessibility and the web. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), founded in 1994 at MIT, is a group of technology experts who set standards for the Internet and the web. W3C's long term goals for the Web are Universal Access, which strives to make the Web accessible to all by promoting technologies that take into account the vast differences in culture, education, ability, material resources, and physical limitations of users on all continents. In pursuit of this goal, the W3C has developed a set of standards for web accessibility.
This list of standards is quite long so we’ve narrowed it down to the 7 accessibility topics we use most often at CITT
graphs & charts
While designing for accessibility it is easy to feel overwhelmed trying to create a site free of obstacles for every conceivable disability. However it is our experience that by using these guides you should be able to increase the accessibility for the vast majority of disabled viewers.
Defining Dissability and Adaptive Devices
When issues relating to accessibility are addressed, people forget the continuum of mild to severe disabilities people experience. This is especially relevant when reflecting on our rapidly aging population of web users. While there are a significant number of Internet users with visual impairments, there are also many users with auditory, cognitive and mobility impairments. It is important to remember that disability for all of us is just an illness, accident, or simply an age away. The following table will give you an idea of the various disabilities and their corresponding assistive devices used to overcome obstacles to access information.
|Topic ||Disabilities ||Assistive Devices |
|Visual ||Blindness or complete loss of sight |
Legally blind, low or limited vision
Weak, dim, or tunnel vision
Glaucoma and Cataracts
Extreme near or farsightedness
|Screen Readers |
Refreshable Braille display
Personal Data Assistant
Control of font size and color
Control of contrast and background
|Auditory ||Deaf or complete loss of hearing |
Hard of hearing
High or low frequency loss
|Mobility ||Repetitive stress injuries |
ALS (Lou Gerhig's disease)
Spinal cord injuries
Loss of limbs or digits
Short-term disabilities (i.e. broken arm)
|Head Pointer |
Voice Recognition software
|Cognitive ||Downs Syndrome |
Reading disorders (i.e. Dyslexia)
|ADD Screen Readers |
Word prediction software
7 Accessibility Design Fundamentals
Since the federal government passed the 1998 Amendment to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation act of 1973, there are suddenly hundreds of websites addressing accessibility and the web. At the forefront, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is a group of technology experts who set standards for the Internet and the web. W3C’s long-term goal for the Web is Universal Access, which strives to make the Web accessible to all by promoting technologies that take into account the vast differences in culture, education, ability, material resources, and physical limitations of users on all continents. In pursuit of this goal, the W3C has developed a set of standards for web accessibility. This list of standards is quite long so we’ve narrowed it down to the 7 accessibility design topics the Technology and Learning Team use most often for designing accessible training: site organization, image maps, multimedia, links, images, graphs & charts, and tables.
While designing for accessibility it is easy to feel overwhelmed trying to create a site free of obstacles for every conceivable disability. However, it is our experience that by using these seven accessibility topics there should be an increase in accessibility for the vast majority of disabled viewers.
|Topic ||Why is it important? ||Things to remember |
|Site organization ||Helps people with cognitive disabilities |
Important for screen readers
Adheres to basic site design principles
|Clear and intuitive navigation |
|Image maps ||Important for screen readers ||Descriptive navigational alt tags |
|Multimedia || |
Provides content to persons with visual and aural disabilities
|Links ||Important for screen readers ||Fully describe where the user is linking to |
|Images ||Important for screen readers ||Descriptive alt tags |
|Graphs & Charts ||Important for screen readers |
Helps people with cognitive disabilities
| Captioning |
|Tables ||Important for screen readersHelps people with cognitive disabilities |
Adheres to basic site design principles
CAST (Center for Applied Special technology) is a resource for finding the : http://www.cast.org
RNIB Clear print guidelines for visually impaired:
WAI (Web Accessibility Initiative) : Quick resource for accessibility tools and tips.
W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) : Created the standards for accesibility used by many federa and state guidelines , information about Universal Access www.w3.org
Web accessibility checkers:
Bobby: A quick check on the accessibility of a site. Bobbycheck will tell you in detail what is wrong with you site and how you can fix it using the W3C standards.www.cast.org/bobby
Lynx View: Shows you what your site will look like through a text-mode browser when you remove images from your page.
Web authoring and validation services:
W3C HTML TIDY: TIDY is a free utility to help you identify and edit where you need to modify your pages to be more accessible to people with disabilities.
W3C HTML Validation Service: It checks HTML documents for compliance with W3C HTML Recommendations and other HTML standards.