In todays world, web accessibility isnt just nice perk but is an actual necessity. Accessibility is important no matter what part of life it includes, whether its inclusion in schools, public areas or the internet. Being able to appropriately access websites leads to more and better information, which in turn leads to a more independence and better quality of life. While I havent had accessibility issues due to any type of disability, I have seen how it could be frustrating for someone who does.
My 8-year-old son is autistic and has problems using computer programs and the internet. Due to too many distracting graphics, his poor fine motor skills and an inability to focus for long periods of time, his technology use is limited. I experienced just a small amount of the frustration he goes through when not long ago, the mouse to my computer stopped working while I was on a website. I tried to use the arrow controls on the keyboard but it didnt work well and I gave up until I replaced my mouse.
Unfortunately for him there is no way to replace his attention deficit disorder, but we are working on his fine motor skills with occupational therapy.
The three stories I chose all have some form of cognitive, learning and neurological disabilities. They are Preety, a student with attention deficit disorder and dyslexia; Yun, a retired individual with vision loss, hand tremors and short-term memory loss; and Luis, who works in a supermarket and has Down Syndrome. All three suffer from conditions that affect the nervous system and control how well they their senses work, how they move, speak and understand information. While the conditions they suffer from often make it hard to communicate clearly, they in no way are indicators of intelligence. There are many barriers to effective use of web technology for persons with cognitive and neurological disabilities. According to the website for Web Accessibility Initiative, some of those barriers are, complex navigation mechanisms and page layouts; complex sentences and unusual words that are hard to read; long passages of text with no graphics to highlight the context; moving, blinking, flickering content and background sound with no adjustment; web browsers and media players that provide no way to suppress animations and audio; and visual page designs that are not adaptable using web browser controls or custom style sheets, CITATION htt17 l 1033 (Stories of Web Users, 2017).
There are ways to help those with cognitive disabilities be more successful when they are using web technology and the internet. There is text-to-speech software that can highlight the text as the program reads it out loud. Also changing the way pictures and illustrations are displayed to help the user better focus on the main content and text alternatives which serve as labels for controls and functionality to aid in keyboard navigation and navigation by voice recognition, CITATION htt17 l 1033 (Stories of Web Users, 2017). In reviewing web accessibility, it is recommended that titles be front-loaded meaning that the most important information is identified first. By placing the most important information first, users with disabilities will be better able to distinguish between the page they need and others. The guidelines also talk about image text alternatives. Image text alternatives are used to convey the purpose of an image, including pictures, illustrations, charts, and are used by people who do not see the image, CITATION Eas17 l 1033 (Easy Checks – A First Review of Web Accessibility, 2017). These guidelines also talk about headings and the necessity for them to be marked up so they are easily navigated by people who use a screen reader as well as mouse and keyboard.
Section 508 is part of the The Federal Acquisition Regulation; Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Act, effective 2001 CITATION Par15 l 1033 (Part VII. The Federal Acquisition Regulation’s Section 508 Provisions, 2015). Section 508 mandates that when federal agencies develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology, they must ensure that the technology is accessible to employees and members of the public with disabilities to the extent it does not pose an undue burden, CITATION Abo18 l 1033 (About Us, 2018).
Another entity that provides solutions for web accessibility is WebAIM. Their mission is to expand the potential of the web for people with disabilities by providing the knowledge, technical skills, tools, organizational leadership strategies, and vision that empowers organizations to make their own content accessible to people with disabilities CITATION Abo99 l 1033 (About WebAIM, 1999). WebAIM accomplishes this mission by participating in the policy talks and processes, research, fostering community involvement, creating instructional media support, developing software and providing these services directing to organizations.
As I said earlier, I have seen first-hand how disabilities can affect the use of technology and therefore limit knowledge. Its reassuring that there are programs and entities that are creating opportunities and making strides toward solutions for web accessibility for people like my son. Hopefully, one day we wont need federal acts and dedicated organizations to make sure all people have the same technological opportunities.
BIBLIOGRAPHY About Us. (2018, May). Retrieved from www.section508.gov:
About WebAIM. (1999). Retrieved from www.WebAIM.org:
Easy Checks – A First Review of Web Accessibility. (2017, December 22). Retrieved from
Part VII. The Federal Acquisition Regulation’s Section 508 Provisions. (2015, August 6). Retrieved from www.justice.gov:
Stories of Web Users. (2017, May 15). Retrieved from