HTML Unleashed PRE. Creating Widely Accessible Web Pages: Introduction
HTML Unleashed PRE: Creating Widely Accessible Web Pages
or the majority of us who haven't experienced any challenges to their physical or sensory abilities, it's almost impossible to even imagine how those who do experience them perceive the world and exchange information. Admittedly, accessibility considerations are not what we are accustomed to taking into account for each step we make. Yet as we enter the virtual realm of the Web, such an attitude might need readjusting.
It is difficult to overestimate the overall impact of the Web on human society. Not only is it a new mass medium, but also a tool capable of making each of us an information provider, not only an information consumer. The accessibility of this innovative technology is therefore a matter of ethics, even politics, much more than that of practicality or commercial profit. With 750 million disabled people worldwide, it is not irrelevant to compare the web accessibility issue to the principle of equal rights regardless of race, color, sex, or age.
This understanding led to the launch, in April 1997, of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), a project of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) aimed at improving web standards from the accessibility viewpoint. The following is from the official Statement of Support signed by U.S. President Bill Clinton:
"Given the explosive growth in the use of the World Wide Web for publishing, electronic commerce, lifelong learning and the delivery of government services, it is vital that the Web be accessible to everyone. The Web Accessibility Initiative will develop the tools, technology, and guidelines to make it possible to display information in ways that are available to all users."
This chapter will acquaint you with the key considerations, existing solutions, and perspectives of development in the area of web accessibility. You'll learn how your web pages can be made more disabilities-friendly with today's technology and with minimal or no additional investment. Nearly every aspect of Web publishing needs to be addressed in this regard, so in this chapter we'll revisit, with the accessibility goals in mind, much of the book's material.
Chapter Table of Contents
Revised: Sept. 19, 1997