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Accessibility in web design: It’s all about how you look at it. Part 1

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images8It can be a real quagmire, trying to sift through new regulations and interpret them.  Trying to decide if they apply to you, or how to implement them into your design or designs.  You may be wondering why you have to, or what the point of them is.  You could be shaking your head in bewilderment as you read these words, and you may even be considering calling it a day.

On the assumption that you are not about to throw in the towel, and are simply wondering why you are reading another article about accessibility and the web, allow me to say that this is not an article to fire-off information at you, or simply reprint regulations with which, you feel over familiar.

If you feel the above has reached out to your soul, then let me waste no more time, and get to the heart of the matter.  Accessibility, is positive in many ways, and not least to the pocket.

People with disabilities use the web.  It is a cold hard, irreversible fact.  Thirty percent of web use is by people with disabilities.  If you’re running a business, do you really want to reduce your potential customers by thirty percent?  I did not think you did.

This not only throws up implications if you are selling something on your website, but also to designers.  If you employ a web designer or web design team, you will want full accessibility built in.  It is ridiculous business sense not to have it. 

As a web designer, whether as part of a team or as an individual, you need to know all there is to know about accessibility, to comply with the law.  It is not that difficult to implement into a design however, especially using tools such as CSS.  Remember that accessibility in web design, is all about how you look at it.

Another good incentive to facilitate accessibility, is to take into account that your audience and readerships is getting older.  Sadly, as we all know, this can and does mean impairments for some of us, that were not there in our younger years.  Vision, hearing, manual capabilities, are all prone to change as we approach our twilight years. 

This obviously calls for bigger buttons, bigger spaces between fields, louder speech, it calls for a button that changes the whole site, so that I can use it.  Just because my hand does not stop shaking, does not mean I do not listen to music.  I want to be able to join in.

Even if your site is catered towards younger, more active people, you would make a crucial error in thinking that someone who does not go to the gym very much, is not at some point, going to need to buy sport equipment.  Everyone has relatives, especially children and grandchildren, and a good pair of trainers, or a bike, do make great presents.  It was a shame they gave up when trying to fill in the fields, as they could not quite read what information was required, wasn’t it?

The point is that this is more than just about dotting the “I’s”, or crossing the “T’s”.  This is about keeping, attracting, and retaining customers and readerships.  It is about inclusion, and it is about fairness.

Though this is article has been a little a bit of a clarion call for the more elderly, or disabled user, it has in my humble opinion, been more of an appeal to common, business sense. 

There is more to accessibility than catering for disabled, or elderly people though, and part 2 of our guide will present this to you.  Hopefully, this article has at least changed your opinion somewhat, on why you need accessibility built into your sites, or as a designer why you need to build it into your designs. 

Accessibility in web design, really is, all about how you look at it.

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