Accessing and Using
the Web for Everyone
For people with disabilities,
using the Internet is not always a simple task. What you or I
may take for granted may be a major stumbling block to someone who cannot
see or hear. It is very important to ensure that accessibility is maximized
Issues to consider can be summarized as follows:
- Text and text equivalents:
Wrapping up your entire website in images and Flash animations will
make it impossible for a teletype machine to feed the information
to someone who has difficulty seeing. Using text for as much of your
content as possible is crucial, and using text equivalents (e.g. ALT
tags) for images also ensures that disabled users can ‘read’ your
images if necessary.
- Understandable content:
This may seem obvious, but it’s a widely made mistake throughout the
Internet. Content should always be simple and easy to read. This means
not being overly wordy, as well as taking care to avoid spelling and
- Quick download times:
Keep pictures to a minimum, and make sure that those that are used
are fully optimized for file size. Avoid using too many nested tables
when possible, and ensure you use style sheets. This will trim down
page size, and also allow users to control the look of your content
if they so choose, by overwriting the style sheet on your website
with one of their own.
- Limited use of Plug-ins:
The use of Flash, Java, ActiveX and the like has increased dramatically
over the years. Sometimes the function of the website is compromised
at the expense of a visually appealing animation or navigation structure.
This goes beyond accessibility issues, as users who lack the appropriate
plug-ins or hardware will be unable to view these pages properly.
This is not to say that plug-ins should be completely avoided, rather
their use should be carefully implemented, and only when necessary
- Functional and inherent navigation:
A website’s navigation is its lifeblood. A poor navigation structure
can destroy a user’s experience, and hurt your online image. Use methods
to determine your website’s architecture and navigation, ensuring
that usability and memorization of your navigation is maximized.
Another tip is to avoid the use of frames when possible, as this can
change the appearance of your website within different browsers, and
makes linking and bookmarking to specific pages unnecessarily difficult.
Text and text equivalents (such as ALT tags) should be used as much
Strive to make content easy to understand. Communicate ideas to all
visitors, whether they have extensive knowledge of the Internet, or
none at all.
- Download times:
Some some exceptions, limit how many pictures are on a site. Optimized
those used for size. Larger pictures have smaller versions, or thumbnails,
available for users to click on to view the larger equivalents.
Avoid the use of Flash, Shockwave, Quick Time, Video, Animations in
general and embedded sounds.
Navigation must be consistent (always appears in the same places)
and adheres to standards. Avoid using frames.