Accessibility

Accessibility has been an important consideration in the design of public spaces and buildings for some time – but in the public space of the Internet, adoption of accessibility standards has been slow. As web professionals begin to adopt web standards in their work, they also take the first step to producing accessible web sites. By demanding certain core elements of accessibility, requiring that your web site is built a site to current XHTML CSS standards for details) – and require that is validate to a basic accessibility level, which you can check at, you can be secure in knowing that your site provided a basic level of accessibility to people with disabilities. Make sure you see working examples of standards-compliant, accessible sites from any prospective designer – this kind of design is a real paradigm shift from traditional practices. PXI is committed to producing all web sites in accord with basic accessibility standards.

What is Web Accessibility?

People with disabilities use a variety of tools and techniques to use the Internet.

Tools used to access web sites

Techniques

For these tools to work, a web site must be intentionally designed to conform to certain standards. There are a variety of detailed standards specifications
(Section 508 and WAI among them) but the basic principles are clear. Conformity to web standards is critical and is the first step in any project to improve accessibility.

Other things which are important

Why should your site be Accessible

There are many benefits to producing accessible web sites. The most obvious reason is that most of us will agree that it is important not to create barriers for people with disabilities to accessing our information (or buying our products). Short-term disabilities due to injury and illness are often overlooked as a contributor to the user-base of accessibility features – things like carpal tunnel syndrome and RSI can make mouse use painful and a site which can be navigated by keyboard is often appreciated. For a nonprofit organization, an accessible website ensure full access to your information. There are other reasons why nonprofit organizations and businesses ought to consider accessible design:

While the extent to which accessibility might be a legal requirement in Canada is unclear, this consideration, together with the other benefits of providing accessible web sites, is compelling. You can read more about the legal questions in the links at the end of this article.

Other reasons include lower bandwidth usage, decreased maintenance costs, improved search engine ranking, portable content, and web sites which will be easily transferred to new platforms, systems, and technology.

An accessible web site is a better web site

Many of the features of an accessible site are useful to all of your site’s visitors. A fast, clear website with good navigation tools encourages users to browse your site, and leaves them with a positive impression of your organization. The back-end techniques used to create an accessible site will provide your organization with a better return on investment with regard to development and content-creation – since the site will have a much longer useful site, and the content’s useful life will not be limited. You will be able to make additions and alterations to the site much more easily, and be able to produce print and PDF versions of your content easily. Many new technologies will be interoperable with the content you develop in an accessible website. Many people are using older browsers, and slow connections – an accessible site will be much easier for them to use.

What does PXI offer in terms of Accessibility?

All of our web sites are be XHTML valid, and will meet Priority 1 and 2 WAI accessibility standards. Every site we produce will be accessible – and certifiably grade AA compliant to the WAI specifications. When additional levels of accessibility may be appropriate for some organizations, we will advise clients if this is the case, and provide clear specifications and estimates (for instance, with regard to multimedia content). In a nutshell, current accessibility compliance is graded as A, AA, or AAA according to adherence to Priority 1 (classified as “must do”), 2 (“should do”), and 3 (“may do”), standards. All of our sites will be AA-level compatible as part of our basic design. In cases where AAA compliance is desired or necessary, we will work with you to do so.

We also provide Accessibility audits and retrofits – at no charge will will examine your site and report on any accessibility issues, and can produce and accessibility action plan for you. We can give you a detailed estimate of what it will take to make your site accessible.

Useful Links

Accessibility and the Law