What is accessibility?

What is accessibility?

In the World Wide Web, accessibility means having equal access to web-based information and services regardless of physical or developmental abilities or impairments.  Some of us may access the Web using a traditional Web browsing technology, such as Netscape or Internet Explorer, while others use various types of assistive technology to access the web.  Examples of assistive technology include:

  • A screen magnifier to view the pages at a larger size
  • A screen reader to hear information on the pages
  • A refreshable Braille display to read the pages by touch
  • A keyboard with keys larger than standard keys
  • A mouse substitute such as a joystick, a trackball, or a switch

Web access also occurs under the following conditions:

  • On black and white screens
  • On the small screens of cell phones or personal digital assistants
  • In shared spaces where courtesy requires quiet

Just as it is important to consider the impact of universal design on our physical world, we should also consider the impact of universal design in the world of the Web. As ramps, curb cuts, lowered drinking fountains and elevator buttons benefit everyone by enhancing physical access, web features such as text descriptions, captioned videos, labeled forms and tables benefit us by enhancing web access. By implementing measures to improve web accessibility, we all can enjoy the same freedom of access to the web, regardless of the Web browsing technology we use.