Welcome to the wiki

This page will give you a brief introduction into web accessibility and the thinking behind the Web Accessibility Wiki.

For a more in-depth introduction to web accessibility and disability, check out WebAIM's Introduction to Web Accessibility.

Accessibility is about people

Unless you, a family member or a friend have had experience of accessibility issues, you may not have thought much about accessibility before. You might not ever have thought of yourself as being disabled, but it is likely that you have experienced an accessibility problem at some point:

  • Do you wear glasses? Perhaps you can remember a time that you needed your glasses but didn't have them with you.
  • Perhaps you have had a temporary disability like a broken arm or repetitive strain injury.
  • Have you ever been in a noisy room and not heard your mobile phone ring? That could be thought of as a situational disability.

Perhaps the first thing to realise about accessibility is that it is about people. Learning about how people access the Web and putting people at the core of what we do helps us to weave accessibility into the sites we build. This is what the “POUR” principle (Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, Robust) is all about and there's a good article about that on the WebAIM site: Constructing a POUR Website


Traditionally, accessibility is defined as “making sure that barriers do not exist for disabled people”. Disability is often thought of in rigid terms, but it is diverse and as individual as the person the disability affects. Disability is a spectrum, where a person's disability may span across several problems in combination, so it is difficult or impossible to categorise. If you consider ageing population and situational disabilities, you begin to realise that accessibility is also more encompassing than you first realised.

Universal design

Accessibility is increasingly being thought of as universal design or “barrier free” design. This is where designers and developers try to ensure that a user's experience is one without barriers.

Many people try to think of technological issues - such as poor Internet connection or small screens on mobile devices - as being accessibility issues. The lines can be blurred and there is ongoing debate in this area, which we do not wish to cover in great detail on this wiki.

Embracing flexibility

An underlying principle of building accessible web sites is to ensure flexibility in what you build. One of the things that you find about accessibility is that you cannot build a web site that works for everyone. You can reduce barriers for many people, but a solution that works for Joe Bloggs may not work for you. A solution that works for you may cause a problem for someone else.

Luckily, many web technologies have been developed with flexibility in mind. For example, using web standards as a basis for building web sites goes a long way to making sure that you are accommodating as many people and technologies as possible. Unfortunately, some web technologies have needed to bolt accessibility on, but the situation is improving all the time.

Accessibility is easy!

Don't worry! Accessibility is easy. Hopefully, that is what this wiki will help you to discover for yourself. Take a look at the index of topics and learn something new about people.


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introduction.txt · Last modified: 2010/04/26 10:18 by dotjay
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