Accessibility for High Definition?

June 13, 2006

Topics: Accessibility, News.

I read an article today by Roger Johansson where he mentioned an interesting situation surrounding the use of high resolution screens. The impact of these newer screens is not something widely considered; but it’s certainly important!

Newer laptop screens are beginning to come available using higher than usual resolution – that is, they have more pixels crammed into a particular area of screen than the normal 72 or 96 DPI. This can have an unfortunate effect for websites, because all of a sudden you’ve got a minuscule interpretation of your elegant page design. Perhaps you can increase the text size, but there’s nothing you can do about the images.

This is not yet a wide-spread issue – but then, accessibility is not about dealing with issues only when they become common. The principle we want to strive for is universal accessibility – and that requires accommodation for high-end products, as well.

Accessibility is very frequently viewed as a means of making something available to those who have disabilities, or for devices with inferior capabilities. But that’s a very inaccurate description – accessibility is about providing equal access to all devices. Practically speaking, however, nobody can actually TEST for all devices. This is why accessibility is so closely tied to web standards.

By adhering to a common set of standards, we can strive to match a template for what will be commonly usable by all user agents. The burden of accessibility is shared between the device designers, user agent creators, and content creators. Only with a commitment to common standards can all information truly be granted equal accessibility.