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Because it's legal and makes business sense



What is disability?

Any restriction or lack (resulting from an impairment) of ability to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being.
www.socialpolicy.ca/d.htm (opens in a new window)


By this definition (and the legal definition), a disability can be permanent or temporary, and affect anyone to a greater or lesser degree. If you break your arm, you are disabled. If you lose your spectacles, you are disabled, etc.


Most people only think of the blind when talking about website accessibility, and this may be partly due to the vocal support of the legislation from the Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB).


The disabled access the Internet in many different ways, as outlined below:

Visually impaired users

Internet users who are 'totally blind' i.e. have no sight at all, generally use screen readers - a programme that reads the content of the page by reading the HTML code that makes up the page.

Screen readers work through the HTML code, deciphering what needs to be read aloud, and what should not. It also follows the emphasis the writer has placed on the content.

If you want to get a taste for having a website read out to you, why not check out the popular JAWS screen reader from their website (opens in a new window). You can then try your own website, either by looking away or turning your monitor off.

Partial or poorly sighted users

If you have some sight, you normally would benefit from increasing the size of the text. To see if you can enlarge the text on your website, go to "View" > "Text Size" > "Largest" (settings for Microsoft Internet Explorer).


If your site is accessible, the size of the text on the whole page will increase. Please note, that any buttons you have, containing text, remain unaltered. There are products that sufferers of poor or partial vision can use, call screen magnifiers - a popular example of which is MAGic - check it out here (opens a new window).

Colour blindness

Colour blindness is fairly common, and can impair the access to the Internet. It is estimated that one in 12 men, and one in 200 women suffer from some form of colour blindness (Source: IEE).


You will find that colour blind visitors are visiting your site. You can check this by using a product called Vischeck - to find our more visit their website (opens a new window).

Deaf users

Obviously, there are few sites that should be inaccessible to deaf visitors, as they can see the pages like any able-bodied visitor. If, however, you have some form of audio message on your site, you will need to provide written transcripts and subtitles.

Keyboard and voice-only users

If your computer mouse breaks, can you still navigate around your computer? It is possible, as all programmes have keyboard shortcuts. Websites should be no different. Visitors with motor disabilities normally find the use of a mouse restrictive.


Try navigating around your website using only the keyboard - does it work?

Other restricted users

Other visitors may have visible problems, or may just not be used to the language you use.


Epileptic users may have attacks triggered by a flickering image on your site.


If you use too much jargon, or industry acronyms, your visitors may have trouble reading and comprehending the content of your website.


Dyslexic visitors may have trouble reading some words, especially if there is no reference point - did you know that it is more difficult to read BLOCK CAPITALS?


If English is not your first language (or whatever language the site is in), you may have problems reading and understanding the content of a site.


There is a demonstration that the Disability Rights Commission have developed - visit it at their website (opens a new window).

How many users are we talking about

This is why you should care about the accessibility of your website:

So are you building your site for a minority? If we add these up (and assume they are mutually exclusive), you are preventing 58% of the population access to part or all of your information. In other words, you are only developing for 42% of the population.