Accessibility: An easy way to find site barriers for customers
In the past it’s not been easy for companies to determine whether their sites are accessible so that they can be used by everyone, including users with visual impairments who use assistive technologies, such as screen readers, and users with physical impairments who don’t use a mouse or trackball. Groups such as the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C) and the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) have documented Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) for project teams to evaluate how accessible their sites are. However, understanding and using these guidelines has not been simple for project teams because many of the standards and guidelines are very technical and often raise more questions than they answer.
Enter the “Easy Checks—A First Review of Web Accessibility” that are aimed at helping non-technical people assess whether their websites have barriers that prevent some potential customers from using the site. The working draft of the Easy Checks (http://www.w3.org/WAI/eval/preliminary#title ) provides simple steps that are actually easy for team members, even non-developers, to visually evaluate the accessibility of a web page. They range from making sure that each page has a page title (what’s displayed in most browser tabs) that briefly and uniquely describes the content of the page, to checking the basic structure of the web page (without images and CSS style sheets) to determine if the information makes sense when read in the order shown. In addition to describing what to look for and how to check it, there are tips for next steps.
-Judy Kistler-Robinson, Senior User Experience Specialist, Usability Sciences