Accessibility is a term used to explain the degree to which a product (such as device, service, environment) is accessible by as many people as possible.

Accessibility is usually related to universal design when the approach involves direct access. Web accessibility, specifically refers to the practice of making websites that can be used by people of all abilities and disabilities. When sites are properly designed, developed and edited, all users can have equal amount of access to information and functionality. For example, when text and images are large and/or enlargeable, it is easier for users with poor sight to read and understand the content. When click able links and areas are large, this assists for those who cannot control a mouse with precision. Another example is when videos have closed captioning to help those who are deaf or hard of hearing to understand better. And when content is written in plain language or illustrated with diagrams and animations, users with dyslexia or learning difficulties can also be 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 those who are non-disabled users.

Web accessibility generally aims to address:

  • Visual: Visual impairments such blindness, various common types of low vision and poor vision, and the color blind;
  • Motor/Mobility: Examples include difficulty or inability to use the hands such as tremors, muscle slowness, or loss of fine muscle control. This can be due to conditions such as Parkinson's disease or cerebral palsy.
  • Auditory: Deafness or hearing impairments, including those who are hard of hearing.
  • Seizures: Photo epileptic seizures caused by visual strobe or flashing effects.
  • Cognitive/Intellectual: Developmental disabilities and learning disabilities such as dyslexia or dyscalculia and cognitive disabilities affecting the memory, attention, developmental maturity, problem-solving and logic skills.

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Sources

American Psychological Association (APA):

accessibility. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Retrieved January 15, 2008, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/accessibility

Web accessibility. (2008, January 7). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 06:49, January 16, 2008, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Web_accessibility&oldid=182670325


By: Fatima Menjivar