Editorial

X.6 November + December 2003
Page: 4
Digital Citation

Accessibilty is for everyone


Authors:
Steven Pemberton

If you really want a fun experience, next time you browse the Web switch off images (if you use Microsoft Internet Explorer, go to "tools\internet options\advanced\multimedia" and click on "show pictures"). This is a heartwarming experience, because it not only gives you a taste of how people with low vision experience the Web, it also shows how many companies are putting time and work into ensuring that their Web sites are accessible to everyone.

OK, so it’s not heartwarming, it’s a disgrace, but you’d better get used to it, because most of us are going to have low vision sooner or later, and we won’t want to stop using the Web, will we?

But before it gets that far, if you know anybody who builds Web sites—and who doesn’t know how to persuade clients to include accessibility in their requirements—tell them that Google is just like a blind user, because Google can only see text and not images, and if their site is not accessible to Google they will get a lower Google rating, and fewer people will find them. And while you’re at it, send them to csszengarden.com, which is a breathtaking collection of beautiful pages, each being exactly the same accessible HTML page styled by a different CSS style sheet.

Beautiful pages do not have to be inaccessible. If the message gets through, with any luck by the time we reach retirement Web sites will have become accessible.

But how do blind users cope with today’s Web? Well, Mary Frances Theofanos and Ginny Redish studied just that, and in this issue present their results along with guidelines based on that study showing how you can make your Web site more accessible to blind users—and to your future self.

Steven Pemberton
interactions@acm.org

©2003 ACM  1072-5220/03/1100  $5.00

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