The role of accessibility in a universal web
Author(s)Henry, Shawn Lawton; Abou-Zahra, Shadi; Brewer, Judy
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"Universal design" is the process of creating products that are usable by people with the widest possible range of abilities, operating within the widest possible range of situations; whereas "accessibility" primarily refers to design for people with disabilities. While the focus of accessibility is disabilities, research and development in accessibility brings benefits to everyone, particularly users with situational limitations, including device limitations and environmental limitations. Awareness and understanding of the benefits of web accessibility to users without disabilities is growing in some areas with the rapid increase of web-enabled devices such as mobile phones, tablets, televisions, and more; with the increasing focus on the growing number of older web users; and with wider web reach in areas with high incidence of low literacy, low bandwidth, older technology, etc. Although there is significant overlap between designing for accessibility and designing for situational limitations, addressing one set of needs does not necessarily provide sufficient solutions for other needs. Keeping accessibility focused on disabilities encourages research and development on meeting the specific needs of people with disabilities. This communications paper explains the importance of "accessibility" continuing to focus on people with disabilities, while further integrating accessibility with web design, development, and research in other areas, including those covered under universal design and design for all. It also describes how the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) are working to address accessibility and related user needs throughout the technologies of the Web, and invites all interested parties to participate in research and development to further integrate accessibility for people with disabilities in ways that benefit all.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
Proceedings of the 11th Web for All Conference on - W4A '14
Association for Computing Machinery
Henry, Shawn Lawton, Shadi Abou-Zahra, and Judy Brewer. “The Role of Accessibility in a Universal Web.” Proceedings of the 11th Web for All Conference on - W4A ’14 (2014), Seoul, Republic of Korea, April 7-9, 2014.
Final published version