Accessibility Vs. Usability In Web Development
Usability is one of the most important issues that web developer faces nowadays. The simplicity of the website in other word people can access important information easier tested against the usability.
Accessibility is a concept that is interlaced with the core concept of usability. Which means website information needs to be available to all people.
The issue has brought into the attention of different sectors of society. Why? Because 1 out of 6 people in North America possess some kind of disability. The figure is still increasing, with the coming of age of senior citizens. During the past decade alone, a dramatic increase of 15% was seen.
“Why is the Internet a central focus in this issue of usability?”
The Internet has transformed the lives of people during the past two decades. People have been able to do things that they were not able to do before, this includes the people with disabilities. People who are impaired don’t have as much opportunities compared to people who are well and able. The Internet has provided them avenues for communication, information gathering, social interaction, engaging in cultural activities and it provides them with employment opportunities.
The issue of usability is not only watched by institutions which are related to giving support to people with disabilities, most of the sectors of society are closely watching its progress. Institutions which are involved in governance, education, media, public services and even the business sectors are observers in the game.
The benefits of improving accessibility of websites will not only benefit the people who have impairments but will affect the whole web community. Businesses, services, information campaigners, everyone will benefit.
Many people are calling for developing websites using a universal design approach. This is a way of developing web content which would accommodate the widest range of users. Some features of this said scheme are: provision of interoperability of applications; access for the disabled; localization and customization.
Below are the points that recommended by W3C to make website content accessible:
- Provide alternatives to audio-visual content
- Not all people will be able to use different kinds of content. These people may be disabled or may have a lower version of Internet browsers. Movies, sound clips, animations and other contents should be translated into text alternatives so as to provide information to the broadest range of viewers.
- Developers shouldn’t rely on color alone
- Many people are impaired in color differentiation. Developers shouldn’t rely too much on the use of colors to relay information in the websites. Charts that are color-coded should be modified and the background and foreground colors of the websites should have enough contrast to enable people with color differentiation impairment to easily navigate the site.
- Clarification of the use of natural language
- Content developers usually mark up the changes in natural language in their websites. They should be able to identify the dominant language that is used in the site so as to avoid confusion.
- Control of content changes that are time-sensitive
- This issue particularly involves people who have visual or cognitive impairments and those who are not able to read texts that are moving quickly. Movement is seen as an over-all enhancer to the look of the site, but it may pose some problems to people with cognitive impairments.
- Accessibility of user interfaces that are embedded
- Objects that posses their own interfaces should be made accessible, and alternative solutions must be provided if this is not possible.
- Provision of orientation and context information
- The provision of information on how the objects are organized is important to provide people with guidance on how to access information.
There are other ways of improving a website’s over-all accessibility to make it more usable. Developers should take into consideration the different people who are going to view their websites and make them focal points in the designing process.