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ajt (2546)

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UK based. Perl, XML/HTTP, SAP, Debian hacker.

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Journal of ajt (2546)

Saturday April 17, 2004
05:06 AM

Disabled Access

[ #18368 ]

There has been a lot of discussion about making web sites accessible for people with disabilities[1]. In the UK it is a legal obligation for companies to not discriminate against disabled people, intentionally or otherwise. There is a recent article on A List Apart discussing UK legislation[2], and it's implication on web designers.

In the US there are similar obligations on companies receiving Federal or state funding, and on government agencies. Most other countries have, or are about to have, similar legal obligations.

In the UK, the Disability Rights Commission undertook a survey[3] of major UK companies' web site, and found that most failed to even meet the most basic accessibility standards. Though you can split hairs as to what is and what is not accessible, it's clear that most sites are not on the whole accessible.

We are about to launch a redesign site at work, and it's clear that our legal advisers are oblivious of the law, as is our graphic artist/web designer. In conversation with a colleague he was quite dismissive of the disability issue, not because it's not a valid point, but rather that most web sites have such awful usability/accessibility for "normal" people, that the disabled issue is really a small part of a much larger problem.

  1. e.g. Let Them Eat Cake
  2. Web Accessibility and UK Law: Telling It Like It Is
  3. Disabled web access is 'being ignored'
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  • I work at the University at Buffalo in New York, and as a state entity, we are supposed to follow accessibility guidelines. But I will say that my bosses have been sold on accessibility not because we "must" but because we sold it as part of the package of web standards. With our old sites, we spent way too much time browser testing. We're attempting to realize the promise of web standards and design sites that are accessible, compliant, and render more or less the same in every browser. We're in the early
    • For a long time I've felt that sound structural design, should lend it's self easily to good usability and easy access for all. However until recently I've not had the time to learn the skills neccesary to solve the problem. I'm now convinced that good design is possible, and actually better for everyone: faster downloads; better usability and easy access.

      It's important to think "forward compatability", not just crude "backwards compatability". If you try to bolt something on as an afterthought, then you

      -- "It's not magic, it's work..."