Making Accessibility Happen

April 3, 2006

Topics: Accessibility, Web Development, Web standards.

It’s a common misapprehension that making an accessible website is expensive. Not exactly true – it’s more accurate to state that it’s expensive to make a website accessible. There is a subtle distinction between those two statements, but an important one.

The same is true in most issues regarding accessibility – it’s not significantly more expensive to make a building, a voting terminal, or a digital resource reasonably accessible from the beginning than it would be otherwise. However, it’s always significantly more expensive to retrofit your existing building to be accessible. You have to widen doorways, build ramps, replace bathroom fittings, etc. The same is true for a website – it’s not a simple matter to make a website accessible if it has previously been built in a less acceptable manner.

Part of what makes a website truly accessible is providing valuable, unique information embedded in the code. Writing alt tags which are descriptive and helpful, writing long descriptions of complex graphs and other visual aids, or providing meanings for acronyms and abbreviations. This is detailed work – and you can’t easily take shortcuts.

Automation is sometimes an incredibly valuable aid, but it’s too easy to perceive it as a solution. Making a website accessible takes time, patience, and attention to detail.

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2 Comments to “Making Accessibility Happen”

  1. Thanks, Pete – glad to hear it!

    It can be amazing how people can simply miss the obvious issue of whether or not their web pages can actually be visited!

  2. This goes back to something I harp on about all the time, ‘understand SEO before getting into online business’. Adding unique content is and will always be one of the major aspects of SEO, this said people fail to grasp the concept by making a website accessible.

    Joe I really enjoy your blog