In the world of internet building, one of the biggest issues you end up dealing with is web accessibility, an aspect of web standards and design that deals with the necessity of developing web content that can be clearly understood by those with dissabilities. Example: Images used for navigation (links) that aren’t properly labelled (with a tag of text for when the image isn’t shown) mean that a blind person is unable to get where they’re going within your site, and text that is too rigidly sized cannot be made bigger for the hard of seeing.
Thing is, the whole concept of designing whole chunks of code for the disabled is that they always seem more like a concept than a reality, like they are just these ghosts that the W3(a standards consortium) uses to scare us into behaving properly. But the other day I met a blind guy in my Presocratics class who’s JOB is going from website to website (public/government sites only) and evaluating their usability with a screenreader (software that reads the text out loud a la Stephen Hawking).
He said that a lot of them were awful. And this was only sites that are REQUIRED to comply to accessibility standards, let alone the whole internet.
Obviously most people reading this are not web designers, but anyone who is should definitely take a look at that page and try to be as accomodating as possible to those less web-fortunate when you’re coding. It seems that the handicapped have even more to gain from electronic media than the sighted/well do (as newspapers don’t come in brail in the morning), so why not give them the best chance possible?
(image credit: The Blind Leading the Blind – Seamus McKinlay)