Great Design is Responsible Design: Web Sites for People with Disablities

Accessible design benefits everyone. When preparing web information accessible to people with disabilities, sites are built more logically, with a focus on content, rater than delivery. Accessible sites are useable on low-end computers with slower Internet connections, and even by people with wireless access to the Internet. Many of the same techniques used to build a site accessible to people with disabilities makes it easier to enable a web site for use on a Internet-enabled mobile phone digital assistant (PDA.) However, there is a need to pay special attention to site accessibility for people with disabilities.

As Web site builders, we spend a great deal of time ensuring that web sites can be accessed by web browsing software of various types. Most designers know to check for site compatibility on Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh platforms, using both Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator. With the vast majority of web users operating one of these software programs, site designers can be relatively sure that nearly all users may access web site content. Unfortunately, it has taken federal legislation to help identify an often-ignored population: people with disabilities. Learn more about the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 508, and how it will affect web sites and web-based application in the near future. You will see examples of site-auditing tools, and screen-reading s oftware used by people with visual and cognitive disabilities.

About the Presenter:

Brandon Smith is President and co-founder of Netlogix, inc., a web application development and hosting firm in Columbus, OH. With post-graduate degrees in Technology Education, minoring in Cognitive Systems Engineering, Brandon has reached user-interface development and design Section 508-compliant web sites. He presents at the National Association of State Arts Agencies conference on site accessibility and his firm focuses on developing sites accessible to people with disabilities.