If you ask most Web developers about Section 508 they will respond with something about their site being accessible to the blind. Most people don’t realize that 508-accessibility is not just about making Web sites accessible to the blind. Section 508 is about removing barriers and making Web site information accessible and usable to all.
In addition to blindness, some of the conditions to be considered include:
- Motor control
- Cognitive issues
- Low vision
- Color blindness
- Hearing impairments
Take a few minutes, look at your Web site and consider the following scenarios.
- A person has tremors brought on by early stage Parkinson’s. This person finally finds some good information on early stage Parkinson’s; but the Web site has fly-out menus and they can’t get to the information because every time they try to click on the menu, tremors move their hand and the menu goes away.
- A person with dyslexia is looking for information on a Web site. This person has learned to establish patterns and cues to navigate Web sites. The person has taken some time to focus on the patterns on the home page; they click on a link and on the next page the navigation moves to another part of the page, and the primary navigation cues change. This person now has to study the page again to determine the new navigation pattern.
- A person with low vision needs may be relying on the option to enlarge text within the browser and not be using a screen magnifier. Often these users encounter Web sites that have a set font rather than ones they can resize. In this case, the user will never be able to enlarge the text.
- A color blind person visits a Web site. This web site has some very nice soft colored text on a pastel background. All a person with color blindness likely sees is a mass of color, no text all.
- A hearing impaired person visits a Web site to view a late-breaking story. The news story is a Webcast of a talking head and the video is not captioned; this user can not gather any information from this Web site and must look elsewhere.
If any of these scenarios apply to your Web site, you may want to consider making changes. After all, your Web site is the gateway to the information that is most important to you and your audience. Aside from being the law, it makes sense to ensure the site is accessible and usable to all.