• Author: Ricky Onsman
  • Date: 19 Jul 2012
  • Access: Free

Quick facts

Too often — and for too long — web accessibility has been regarded as something applied to a website, perhaps in the development phase, affecting only site functionality.

Too often — and for too long — web accessibility has been regarded as something applied to a website, perhaps in the development phase, affecting only site functionality.

Web designers, who establish and control the look and feel of a website in order to present the content to greatest effect, can feel they have no role to play in making a website accessible.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Web accessibility should inform every aspect of website design.

When the designer is considering their prospective web audience, it makes sense to take all the needs of the user group into account. No matter who the intended audience is, that will include people with some type and level of disability.

At the most basic level, this is asking you not to design a website to be inaccessible to one in ten people. What WCAG 2.0 does for web designers is provide advice on what to consider and how to implement accessibility to a sufficient degree. Much of WCAG 2.0 focuses not on paying special attention to the needs of people with disabilities but rather on not ignoring them.

That requires some thought about what might present a barrier to access for some people and applying a means to provide access for them, perhaps by removing the barrier, or modifying it, or letting the user control it, or supplementing it with an alternative means to access the content.

These are principles, challenges and solutions that are part and parcel of what a web designer does.