How do I improve my site’s accessibility?

*Back to blogging again, been quite busy with helping out in the collection of donations and goods for the typhoon and mudslide victims in the Bicol region. Still, donations are very much welcomed. Moving on…

This news item from the BBC News Technology section has got me a bit worried, ‘Most websites’ failing disabled. Sad really. We bloggers would always jump at the moment to protect our blogger’s rights, control over what content appears in our blogs and censorship over what users can comment in our posts but a recent study has shown that we have been less ‘considerate’ about our disabled neighbors who use the internet and would surely love to visit our blogs and other sites.

The story goes on to say:

Most of the leading websites around the world are failing to provide the most basic accessibility standards for people with disabilities.

Ninety seven percent of websites did not provide even minimum levels of accessibility, a new survey has found.

Accessibility agency Nomensa tested the leading websites in five different sectors across 20 countries

Only three websites, including the British Prime Minister’s site, achieved the minimum standards.

The report, commissioned by the United Nations as part of its International Day of Disabled Persons, will make depressing reading for anyone committed to the idea of equal web access for all.

I just Googled about the International Day of Disabled Persons and it’s been five days since it was commemorated! For even a heavier guilty-trip, the theme for this year is, well, ‘E-Accessibility.’

In all honesty, I feel quite guilty because I blog to talk about health, science, technology, the internet, and yes politics not just for the heck of it, but each time I blog, I try to bring a message across. A message that has deeper meaning and would be of service to the ordinary folk, I want them to know that the subjects I write about could help improve their lives in more profound ways than one. Disabled persons are among them but it wasn’t until now that I may have been unmindful of them.

Now I don’t know if disabled persons have visited and read this blog before but when they do, I want them to have a good experience, not just be able to read what I write here but be able to leave with something positive and gainful for them. The best effort I have been able to pull off is adding that translation feature so that non-English speaking readers could read my content in their native languages. (It’s on the sidebar, just click on your respective flags and you’re good to go.)

A handicap on my part would be lack of ‘know-how’ regarding web standards, those XHTML, WCAG and W3C standards. Recalling my Sitescore Silktide rating of 7.0, a section in the report really bugs me;

All pages were found in violation of the current W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

This website may be unlawful in Britain. The British Disability Discrimination Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against a disabled person by refusing to provide any service provided to members of the public – including websites.

Going back to that BBC News Tech report, it has the following statistics to show that this blog is not alone:

    KEY SHORTFALLS
    93% failed to provide adequate text descriptions for graphics
    73% relied on JavaScript for important functionality
    78% used colours with poor contrast, causing issues for those with colour blindness
    98% did not follow industry web standards for the programming code
    97% did not allow people to alter or resize pages
    89% offered poor page navigation
    87% used pop-ups causing problems for those using screen magnification software

Sure there’s SEO, there’s Ads optimization, usability development, and constant design/theme refinement to improve our blogs and sites. The figures paint a not-so-good picture though, we’re optimizing for buck so much, we’ve nearly forgotten that there are disabled netizens out there who are suffering and being neglected because of it. This would be another dimension of that ‘net neutrality’ issue.

But with all that said, how can I improve my site’s accessibility?

Better still, perhaps one could consider Raleigh eyelid surgery so as to improve not only your looks but your feeling as well knowing that the signs of aging that are often first seen around the eyes have been removed.

4 Comments

  1. Great to hear that you are making a social impact. We all have a social responsibility, and most people forget that.

    Her in the PI, accesiblity for the physically challenged is hard to find…almost nonexistent. I'm surprised no groups have fought for this right yet.

    Reply

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