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What is “accessibility”?

In a nutshell, accessibility (as it relates to the web) is making a website and its content accessible and usable to everyone, including those who have disabilities such as:

  • visual impairment
  • physical impairment
  • auditory impairment
  • mental impairment

Currently, accessibility seems to be a “it’d be nice if…” feature of websites. However, it’s actually a bigger deal than most businesses, designers, or developers think. Worldwide, 750 million people have a disability and three out of every 10 families are touched by a disability. In the United States, one in five people have some kind of disability and one in 10 has a severe disability.

Oh no! I feel horrible I’m leaving all those people out!

You’re not alone, in a usability study performed on 200 websites around the world, over 80% of websites are not performing at an W3C A accessibility level. Which means we have a ways to go before the internet is accessible to everyone.

What if I don’t care about those people?

Accessibility is still important, even if you don’t think those users are. (Shame on you by the way for thinking that, you mean person you!)

If you’re working with government or federally funded websites such as colleges, it’s actually against the law to not comply with Section 508 Accessibility Standards. Since June 2001, U. S. federal Web sites must comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. §794.d).

Also, this is becoming more of a mainstream issue since 2006 when Target was sued for it’s non-compliance of Section 508 Accessibility Standards. So, if you want to work for any of those big name brands or legally conscious business people accessibility is important to you too.

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