Tag: Accessibility Requirements

Web Accessibility – General Accessibility Standards and Requirements

Web Accessibility – General Accessibility Standards and Requirements

This article looks at Web Accessibility and gives specific mention to the standards and requirements that have been established by industry professional groups.

The World Wide Web Consortium or simply W3C, have developed and fostered a program called the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). The initiative is regarded as the international standard for web accessibility. The WAI set standards, develop guidelines, provide resources and support materials that promote systematic web development and aims to make the web accessible to all.

Under the WAI, the following standards have been authored and are the global bench mark for web accessibility

  • Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) – The WCAG standard outlines how to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities. The content refers to  information on a web page in the form of text, images, multimedia material, and sounds. It also refers to the programming language or markup that defines its structure and presentation. The WCAG standard is designed with authoring in mind and is aimed at web developers and designers, web authoring tool developers, web accessibility evaluation tool developers and any other persons or groups such as governments or community groups who strive to set a standard in web content accessibility.
  • Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) – The ATAG standard explains how to make the authoring tools that are used to build dynamic web pages, accessible to those with disabilities so they too can create and publish web content. Furthermore and importantly, the standard promotes the production of web content in a way in which the published content itself conforms to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) so that people using the website and on the receiving end of the chain, can access and interpret the content. The ATAG standard is primarily for the use of developers of authoring tools and those that wish to develop tools that are far more accessible. The following are some of the types of authoring tools that developers are utilising and that should adhere to the ATAG standard, What-you-see-is-what you get HTML editors, software for developing websites such as content management systems, software that converts to documents to web content technologies, multimedia authoring tools, websites that allow users to add content such as blogs and photo-sharing sites.
  • User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG) – Quick Note: For the intended purpose of this topic, a user agent is described and intended to be a web browser or other software application that renders web content. Generally speaking and according to wikipedia, a user agent  is a software agent that acts on behalf of a user. The UAAG standard explains how developers of user agents can work to make them accessible to those with disabilities. In some cases, accessibility is better met in the browser than in the web content allowing users with specific needs to customise the content, preferences and interface to suit their specific needs. For user agent developers that conform to the standard, they will improve upon their web accessibility by allowing the software greater ability to communicate with assistive technologies that are widely used by people with disabilities. The UAAG has been developed primarily for the use of developers of web browsers, browser extensions, media players, readers and other software applications that serve the purpose of rendering web content. The standard is also intended for those looking to improve upon their own software when it comes to audience reach and its accessibility, individuals looking to choose a more accessible user agent or even people who wish to file bug issues against the UAAG in the hopeful desire that their chosen user agent will improve upon these issues in the future.

As well as the above guidelines established by the WAI, the initiative have published a number of documents that serve as recommendations for improved accessibility across modern websites.

  • Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA) – The ARIA documentation provides accessibility recommendations on how to help make web pages with more dynamic and interactive content accessible to those with disabilities
  • Independent User Interface (Indie UI) – Indie UI describes ways in which user actions can be communicated to web applications. It will provide improved accessibility by allowing web applications to function across different devices, different assistive technologies and for users with differing but specific needs


Referenced websites:

World Wide Web Consortium – W3C



Web Accessibility – What is it and Who are the user groups?

Web Accessibility – What is it and Who are the user groups?

Web accessibility in straight terms, means that people with disabilities can use the web like everybody else.

When it comes to developing websites and furthermore publishing information on the internet for everyone to see, recommendations of accessibility standards and guidelines have been set by groups such as World Wide Web Consortium (W3C ) who believe the world wide web should be accessible to all.

This article has been written to highlight the user groups that are referred to when we talk about web accessibility. Who are they and what are their specific accessibility requirements?

Listed below is a selection of groups with diverse abilities along with specific requirements that enable them to interact with websites

  • Auditory – An auditory disability is described as those who suffer from hearing loss. This can range from mild or slight cases of hearing loss, right to the end of the spectrum with some people suffering complete loss of hearing or deafness. In order to get the most out of their web experience, people with auditory disabilities can be assisted in the following ways; providing transcripts and captions to all audio or video content; utilising media players that display captions for audio rich content and allowing the user to adjust the visibility of the captions; ability to stop, pause and adjust volume levels within the media player and independently of the system controls; and the access to high quality foreground audio that is distinguished or separated from any background noise
  • Cognitive and Neurological – Cognitive and Neurological disabilities refers to disorders that attack the nervous system including the brain. This type of disability is broad but can affect how people hear, see, move speak and absorb information. Accessibility for these groups of people require clearly structured content that focuses on overview as well as orientation; consistent design across web pages functionality and naming conventions of web forms; search fields to assist in navigation; the ability to stop flashing animations or otherwise distracting elements; and by employing explanative but simple text that is used to supplement images, graphs or any non-textual information.
  • Physical or Motor Disabilities – A physical disability is to do with a persons body movement and their limited or inability to use certain parts of their bodies. Accessing the web to these groups of people involves utilising specially designed hardware and software solutions, also known as assistive technologies which include; specially designed keyboard or mouse; physical aids such as head pointers or mouth sticks; onscreen keyboards and the ability to tab through content without mouse use; software that supports hands free interaction
  • Speech – Speech disabilities interrupt a persons ability of producing speech and engaging with others either vocally or through voice recognition software. These groups of people particularly struggle with web services that are voice based. Services that provide automated telephone hotlines and voice command applications should further consider these groups of people by providing them with alternatives such as text-based chatlines, web applications that support keyboard commands, email contact information and feedback forms.
  • Visual – Visual disabilities include slight or severe vision impairments, short or near-sightedness, blindness and colour blindness. Accessibility requirements for this group of people include the ability to increase or reduce text size and images in their browsers; ability to customise content for font, colour and spacing; specialised software that transfers text to speech, audio descriptions of multimedia elements and reading text using the tactile language of braille.


Referenced websites:

World Wide Web Consortium – W3C