Web Accessibility refers to the inclusive practice of making websites usable by people of all abilities and disabilities by incorporating accessibility standards into website design and development. Individuals with disabilities may encounter barriers to access if a website is not designed and developed with accessibility in mind. Incorporating the use of web accessibility guidelines with the principles of universal design, and web usability best practices can maximize the user experience and ensure content is available to all users.
"Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web, and that they can contribute to the Web.1" Accessible websites improve the experience of all users.
(See also Universal Design, Assistive Technology, Section 508 Requirements)
Several key groups have developed web accessibility guidelines and standards including the US Access Board, which developed the Telecommunications Act Accessibility Guidelines and Section 508 Standards, and the World Wide Web Consortium, W3C, an international consortium which develops protocols and guidelines that ensure the long-term growth of the Web.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0
1: Content must be perceivable.
2: Interface components in the content must beoperable.
3: Content and controls must be understandable.
4: Content should be robust enough to work with current and future user agents (including assistive technologies)
WCAG 2.0 Quick Reference List
Text Alternatives: Provide text alternatives for any non-text content so that it can be changed into other forms people need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols or simpler language.
Time-based Media: Provide alternatives for time-based media.
Adaptable: Create content that can be presented in different ways (for example simpler layout) without losing information or structure.
Distinguishable: Make it easier for users to see and hear content including separating foreground from background.
Keyboard Accessible: Make all functionality available from a keyboard.
Enough Time: Provide users enough time to read and use content.
Seizures: Do not design content in a way that is known to cause seizures.
Navigable: Provide ways to help users navigate, find content, and determine where they are.
Readable: Make text content readable and understandable.
Predictable: Make Web pages appear and operate in predictable ways.
Input Assistance: Help users avoid and correct mistakes.
Compatible: Maximize compatibility with current and future user agents, including assistive technologies.