How long it will be before
e-Business, or Business web designers fully commit
themselves to designing their websites for use by the
disabled? In a report carried out by the Center for
Human Computer Interaction Design, at City University,
London, for the Disability Rights Commission of the UK
it found that over 81% of websites fail to satisfy the
basic Web Accessibility Initiative category. Only a mere
19% of websites complied with even the lowest priority
checkpoints for accessibility.
These original conclusions,
to begin with, were obtained by using fifty disabled
people from the following different categories and
stages of impairment:
- Partial Sight
- Profound deafness,
including people who use sign language to
communicate and slight hearing loss.
- People with
physical impairment that affects their use of access
to the web, such as lack of dexterity, tremors, and
lack of control of hands and arms.
- Whether the sex of
a disabled person made any significant difference to
their accessibility needs.
- What age group of
disabled persons found the most difficulty in their
ability to use the web.
More automated testing
used over a thousand web pages across a hundred
websites. A controlled study chose a sample of six
websites to focus the disabled persons needs upon.
The findings were that
blind users who employ screen readers to access the web
are disadvantaged by websites, whose design does not
take full account of their needs. Another good cross
section of disabled users also said, that site designs
do not take sufficient account of their specific needs.
The recommendation is
that Web developers should familiarize themselves more,
with the needs of disabled people. A good way of
overcoming this problem would be to involve disabled
people in the setting up of guidelines for the World
Wide Web, and in the design of more easily accessible
disabled people in the design of websites may do little
to improve usability, as many of the problems
experienced by handicapped people are also experienced
by normal users, who find many websites confusing. With
these sort of findings, how long will it be before there
is legislation passed to make website owners comply and
each website is issued with a kite-mark for good
So what makes a
better Website for the disabled?
We as website owners
could make small changes, like using larger font sizes,
using colors that are compatible with the disabled,
maybe having audio reading on the website,and easier
linking to other parts of the website. Make blocks of
information more readable by breaking them up into
Use software to tell the
disabled person when the page changes, or when a pop up
blocker appears. One possible obstacle to instigate any
change, would be the expense to website owners and the
cost of installing software on disabled peoples
computers. Maybe software companies could develop new
programs and install them into all new computers before
they leave the factory.
Then there are the
Browsers, surely they have a duty to disabled people
around the world to change things for the better. It
does not have to be all about profit. It is no good
ignoring this important problem, it is not going to go
away. The more legislation there is about disabled
peoples rights, the more, we as responsible site owners,
should begin make a difference to the lives of
handicapped internet users.
If many of us, that have
no disabilities, could view life through the eyes of a
disabled person, the quicker these changes would be
instigated. So let us all agree to make things better
for disabled Web users. Just one small step at a time,
is all that is required.