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What does accessibility mean

Definition :

A website or electronic document is accessible when anyone can access the information contained in it, regardless of physical, economic or technological circumstances.

Accessibility refers to:

  • platform and browser compatibility (access via a variety of hardware and software).
  • access for users with disabilities (visual and hearing disabilities, physical disabilities / motor skills, language / cognitive disabilities).
  • access for users of different types of user agents (assistive technologies, such as screen-readers).

This is achieved through:

  • standard compliance of the underlying HTML [?] code according to W3C [?] guidelines.
  • compliance with WAI [?] accessibility guidelines.
  • validation of code.
  • testing in different environments.

What this means :

The Internet is an amazing source for information and support, a tool for communication and entertainment, but it can present barriers to people with disabilities and to users of slow connections and older versions of software. Unless a web site is designed in an accessible format, significant parts of the population will be locked out.

Organisations, such as the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), are working to develop standards for creating accessible web content and tools to access this information. They are trying to convince web developers and manufacturers of browsers to build websites and tools according to these specifications to ensure access to all.

Barriers to access :

  • Disability,
  • Age,
  • Language and literacy,
  • Technology (cost, old technology, slow connections, small devices, assistive technology).

Of course, none of these should be barriers. The only real barrier in this context is inconsiderate web design.

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