An estimated 500 to 700 million people worldwide have disabilities. Our
population worldwide is aging, resulting in vision & hearing changes,
and changes in dexterity & memory. Other web visitors have additional
differences to consider. Many people:
- Cannot see graphics because of visual disabilities (blind/low vision
or colorblind); may need large print options, voice output browser or
high contrast colors. In the USA, approximately 10.4 million people
(about 4 percent) have low vision or are blind. Approximately 8-10%
of the male population and about 0.6% of the female population experience
some form of color deficiency.
- Cannot hear audio because of a hearing loss. Approximately 22
million Americans (8.2%) report some level of hearing loss; 2.4 million
report a severe loss.
- Have difficulty navigating sites that have poor organization, confusing
directions or distracting images due to cognitive or neurological disabilities,
such as learning disabilities, ADHD, seizure disorders, other developmental
disabilities or are younger than the average user
- Cannot use a mouse to navigate due to physical or visual disabilities,
thus use keystrokes. Approximately 120 million people worldwide.
- Speak, write and/or understand English as a Second Language (300+
- Use handheld and wireless devices
- Use slow connections and modems or older equipment that cannot download
Designing products for accessibility opens possibilities for everyone.
Sidewalks with curb cuts are simply better sidewalks. Innovations developed
by, or in support of, people with disabilities that became "electronic
curb-cuts" have benefited us all. Consider the Internet
Electronic Curb-cuts of the 1990's.
User Experiences and Disability Simulations:
- Screen Reader
- Low Vision Simulation
- Color Blindness Simulation
- Motor Disabilities Simulation: Try opening a Web browser and finding
specific information using only the keyboard, without the mouse.
- Cognitive Disabilities
Simulation: Or, try rotating your mouse 180 degrees, with the buttons
facing you. Navigate for a minute on the Web. Or, try using the mouse
with your non-dominant hand.
- Cognitive Overload
- Examples of less than fully accessible sites: (go to "Preferences"
or in IE 6.0 "Internet Options" "Advanced" and turn
off images and scripts, then view)
Legal Mandates and Sources of Assistance:
504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 - Department of Justice, Rehabilitation
- The Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 - Department of Justice, ADA Home
- 1996 Department of Justice ruling - ADA accessibility requirements
apply to Internet resources
- The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
- develops the common protocols to promote universal access
- W3C's Web Accessibility
Initiative (WAI) lists guidelines for web access
- Section 508 Standards - 2001 for electronic
and information technology
College Web Standards
Coordination and Reform (or "How to get people to make their
Web content accessible"). A tutorial, including "The 8 Steps
Toward Institutional Reform."
of institutional web accessibility policies
View the University
of Minnesota's Web Accessibility Standards
- All standards require web developer judgment
Designing for Accessibility is Good Page Design!
A recent self-assessment of the Montgomery College department and faculty
websites revealed that most of the access problems could be easily solved
- using better general design principles,
- providing "ALT" tags for graphics, and
- improving TITLE tag, link and frame descriptors.
A sample "disaster" page.
See also WebAIM's "How-to
and tutorial" related to Graphics, Forms, Dreamweaver, FrontPage,
PDF, Powerpoint, Multimedia and more.
- Use a simple,
consistent page layout throughout your site.
- Use enough
contrast. Keep backgrounds simple.
- Design options large enough.
- Avoid flashing elements; they can cause seizures. Avoid annoying animations.
- Provide alternatives for marquees.
- Use ordered
(numbered) lists when possible.
- Use the TITLE tag in the HEAD to identify your page in user bookmarks
and printed copies.
- Use "ALT" tags for graphical
elements on your page.
- Use "ALT" tags for graphical
representations of text.
- Use a NULL
value for unimportant graphics.
- Make links descriptive so that they are understood out of context.
For an example of a poorly-named link, click
- Use a descriptor for a link name, rather than
a web address. Repeat the link name after the descriptor.
- Use bullets
or separators between adjacent links to cause screen-readers to
lists with links.
- Use frame
titles with text that facilitates frame identification and navigation.
http://www.AHEAD.org - page using
frames for layout of header, menu, and content.
- Consider alternatives
- Provide a method to skip
repetitive navigation bars and links. See example of "Skip
- Include menu
alternatives for image maps to ensure that the embedded links are
accessible client-side image map is located on the Disability Support
Services website at http://www.montgomerycollege.edu/
- Create a
logical tab order through links, form controls, and objects.
- Provide keyboard
shortcuts to important links.
a site map or table of contents.
- Use the "Summary"
attribute within the TABLE tag element.
- Identify row
and column headers.
- Use the "TH" tag
element for row and column headers.
- Link header
information to rows and columns in tables.
- A in-depth discussion on making
data tables accessible is available at the Architectural and Transportation
Barriers Access Board Section 508 website.
- Provide audio
description and transcripts
- Provide alternatives for content in applets and plug-ins.
For example, Disability Support Services provides all its intake
forms in Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) format, some in (.doc) format as well,
and states that hard copies and other formats, such as large print are
available on request.
- Provide alternatives
for forms and databases.
- Consider other options for making graphical features accessible.
Some organizations with graphic-intensive Web pages provide a separate
text version of their site to ensure accessibility. This adds a great
deal of maintenance time and complexity as two versions of a site must
be updated. It also segregates site visitors according to the type of
equipment they use to access the Web. As much as possible, design
a single version of your site so that it is accessible to all visitors.
- many issues arise. Help is available at the W3C-WAI website. Ensure
that pages are accessible
with scripts turned off for browsers that don't support scripts.
In in-depth discussion on making
scripts accessible is available at the Architectural and Transportation
Barriers Access Board Section 508 website.
- Web Captioning Tutorials.
The most complete set of instructions you'll find anywhere for captioning
with SMIL and SAMI for Real Media, Quicktime and Windows Media Player
Test Your Web Pages
- Use the Bobby Accessibility
Checker available at http://www.cast.org/bobby/. Test on a variety
of platforms (UNIX, Windows, MAC) and browsers (Netscape 3 & 4,
IE 5, lynx). Bobby tests for accessibility and highlights nonstandard
and incorrect HTML.
- A-Prompt: Download
this free PC software which tests your site for accessibility and usability,
then guides you through any necessary corrections to your code.
- AccVerify Cynthia
Says Edition: provides tests for conformance to Section 508 and
W3C accessibility guidelines.
- WAVE 3.0 Web Accessibility
Tool: The WAVE is a free online tool that facilitates human judgment
in the accessible design process.
- Use Vischeck to test
your website for accessibility with colorblind users.
- Web Accessibility Initiative
tools, checklist, and guidelines.
- Section 508
Web Accessibility Checklist.
Repair, and Transformation Tools for Web Content Accessibility.
- Alternative Web
- Lynx Viewer:
See how your page looks when viewed with Lynx, a text-mode web browser.
- Opera: This compact
browser for Windows 95/98/ME offers enhanced keyboard navigation and
- Get feedback about your website from people with disabilities.
- Use your judgment!
Download demo assistive software to test web pages for accessibility:
- JAWS is probably the most commonly used screen readers among people
who are blind. It is not only used to access the Web, but also for complete
computer control and navigation. JAWS is a very complex program with
has a steep learning curve, but highly suggested for those who want
to test their own Web content. (40-minute demo version; user must restart
computer to reuse the demo).
- IBM Homepage Reader
3 - Home Page Reader only reads Web content and basic text files.
It is not used for complete computer control and navigation. It is much
easier to use and learn than other screen readers, but also somewhat
limited in functionality. HPR works great for demonstrating what a screen
reader is and how it is used. (30-day trial version).
- Window-Eyes - a full-featured
screen reader (30 minute trial version); also fairly complex and probably
not for the casual non-blind user.
Xtra - magnifies text for low vision users (free demo version available
for download or on CD).
- Opera is a Web browser with screen
enlarging functionality. A free, ad-supported version is available.
Opera is a great tool because it is both very easy to learn and use,
and it is free.
- W3C's Web
Accessibility Initiative outlines the strategies and tools for creating
web sites that are highly usable. "Getting
Started: Making a Website Accessible" is an excellent place to start
learning about these tools. Many of the slides used as examples in this
page were from the Curriculum
for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 by Chuck Letourneau
at Starling Access Services and Geoff Freed at the National
Center for Accessible Media.
- WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind:
(Excellent source of information on web accessibility and solutions,
WebAIM's "How-to and tutorial" related to Graphics,
Forms, Dreamweaver, FrontPage, PDF, Powerpoint, Multimedia and more.
- Accessibility in Distance
Education (ADE): (explains impact of accessibility
in the online environment and provides information about different
types of disabilities, relevant laws, and best accessibility practices)
Accessibility provides information on creating accessible web content
with Macromedia products.
- Microsoft - Accessibility
Technology for Everyone: "Empowering People Through Great
PDF Accessibility Tools: Adobe provides a tool that will convert
your PDF into a readable HTML or text file.
Course Design and Accessibility provides concrete suggestions for
making your online course accessible. Written by Glen Low, WebCT. Date:
Sept. 19, 2001.
Web Site Construction and Electronic and Information Technology Resource
Center: links to many websites dealing with web accessibility issues
from the International Center for Disability Resources on the Internet
Intranet and Internet Information and Applications" from the Architectural
and Transportation Barriers Access Board "Guide to the Section 508 Standards
for Electronic and Information Technology - June 21, 2001," lists each
508 standard and provides technical assistance with clear examples on
- Media Access Generator
(MAGpie), for creating captions and audio descriptions for rich
- Searchable database of Web
Accessibility Resources (This is a large, continually growing database
of sites all over the Web.)
- Valle Verde Library
- Designing Web Pages for People with Disabilities : (Excellent
listing of resources on general information, legal issues, design issues
and testing your web site for accessibility)
- Trace Research and Development
Center provides resources for the design of accessible Web pages
including applet and plug-in features.
- America Online Accessibility
Policy - AOL's commitment to the development of products and services
that are accessible to all users, including those with disabilities.
Education: Access Guidelines for Students With Disabilities," California
Community Colleges, 8/1999
- More information and resources on web
access, assistive technology and disability-related topics are available
at the Disability
Support Services website at http://www.montgomerycollege.edu/Departments/dispsvc/.
Visit the Montgomery
College Disability Support Services website at: http://www.montgomerycollege.edu/Departments/dispsvc/.
For information about this document, contact Janet
Merrick (email@example.com), Counselor, Disability Support Services,
CB122C, Rockville Campus or call (240) 567-5061, (240) 567-5058, or TTY