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Accessibility on the web has been an issue for over a decade, and it remains a crucial--but often overlooked--element of web design. Instructor Zoe Gillenwater explains the concept of accessibility as it applies to the web, and describes how it affects the audience. She also covers how to set up accessibility testing, and how to apply accessibility principles to new and existing sites using standards-compliant markup and CSS. Exercise files accompany the tutorials.
>> Now let's look at how accessibility helps real people. The web is a really great tool for people with disabilities because for many of them, it can truly enrich and change their lives, being able to function independently. Web accessibility is essential for equal opportunity. The web is increasingly used in all areas of society as part of daily life. And it's sometimes completely replacing traditional resources provided by the government, education, news, healthcare. And having access to this information on the web is a great tool for people with disabilities.
It can provide them more access to information than they had access to before. For example, information that could only be obtained by physically going to the library and reading a book printed in Braille can now be accessed by blind or otherwise disabled people in their own homes. So that might be something that may have been impossible for them to read before that now they have access to. The web can also provide people with disabilities more opportunity for interaction. They can meet other people and form relationships on the web.
The web also gives them more opportunities for different types of jobs. And they can participate more fully in society, even contributing their own content to the web. So by making your web pages accessible, you're making them usable without eyes, ears, motor control, perception of color, even a mouse, things that many people take for granted. It's helpful to get a sense of how people with disabilities access the web. Many people use special software or devices called assistive technology, which is often abbreviated to AT on accessibility websites.
This includes screen readers and screen magnifiers for people who are blind or visually impaired. Refreshable Braille displays for use by people who are both blind and deaf, captioning software can be used by people who are deaf to access multimedia presentations. Voice recognition software, switches, pointer sticks and touch screens are all tools that can be used by people with motor impairments who cannot use a mouse. But many people use the same technology that others use, but just in a different way.
For instance, many people may use the keyboard to navigate around their operating system or browser instead of a mouse. They may customize their browser or their whole system font size to make it easier for them to read. They can also adjust their browser window size, their color settings, even set up their own style sheets to make things easier for them to read, understand and use. Changes that you make for accessibility can also help people who don't use any of this technology and who aren't disabled. Usually, the changes that you make for accessibility are completely transparent to those who don't need them.
But they can also be helpful to other groups, particularly people who are older, who use small screen devices, like mobile phones and PDAs, who use old or slow devices or computers, people who have low fluency or literacy in a particular language, or even people who are just relatively unfamiliar with using the web. All of these groups of people can benefit from the changes that you make for accessibility. In later movies, we'll discuss each of the specific benefits of the techniques that we go over as we cover it.
In the next movie, let's look at an inaccessible and an accessible version of the same web page to get a sense for how a person with a disability might experience that page.
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