Who Benefits From A More Accessible Internet?

computer keyboard with an access key

As web designers and content strategists, we are responsible for making sure we create websites that are accessible to all users, regardless of abilities and disabilities.  Luckily, the international ICT community is taking accessibility more seriously.  Last year the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) released a report – The ICT Opportunity for a Disability-Inclusive Development Frameworkthat begins to examine how ICTs can support better social and economic inclusion for people with disabilities and other issues that prevent users from receiving the full benefits of technology.

As supporters of accessibility, Global Wire Associates was fortunate to participate in this report.  We have discussed this topic many times over.  Now let’s talk about who benefits from a more accessible internet and how web designers and content developers can rethink how they go about creating better online spaces.

Users who have problems using a mouse and/or a keyboard:

  • Think about creating web pages that can be accessed without using these tools.

Deaf and hard of hearing users:

  • Create captions and/or transcripts for online video or audio content.

Users of dial-up or slower internet connections:

  • Always use alternate text for images and provide transcripts for online video and audio content whenever possible.  Because of slower connections, it might take longer to download content.  On average, most users leave a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load.  Also consider using smaller size images that can load quicker.

Visually impaired and blind users:

  • Consider designing text that can be easily enlarged in the browser for better viewing.  Also, break up large paragraphs into lists and headings and display descriptive text for hyperlinks.

Mobile phone users:

  • All the above.  In addition, less is more.  Mobile phone users care more about getting to the point and seeing the content they want upfront.  Consider adopting a content first strategy.

Web designers and content strategists should also adhere to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 and specifically the four principles of accessibility.

Perceivable – Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.

  • This means that users must be able to perceive the information being presented (it can’t be invisible to all of their senses)

Operable – User interface components and navigation must be operable.

  • This means that users must be able to operate the interface (the interface cannot require interaction that a user cannot perform)

Understandable – Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.

  • This means that users must be able to understand the information as well as the operation of the user interface (the content or operation cannot be beyond their understanding)

Robust – Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.

  • This means that users must be able to access the content as technologies advance (as technologies and user agents evolve, the content should remain accessible)
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