I enjoyed Robert Dwek’s article on the issue of Web accessibility for the disabled (MW August 28). The issues he focused on are important, but also complicated. Because of this there are some misconceptions that Marketing Week readers should be aware of.
Firstly, at a briefing earlier this month, Disabled Rights Commission Web accessibility project leader Stephen Beesley confirmed that the purpose of the commission’s investigation is not to name and shame companies falling foul of legislation, but instead to work confidentially with them to promote better accessibility.
I feel the article reflects a disturbing trend among accessibility practitioners of resorting to scare tactics to encourage businesses to shell out on accessibility services. Creating an accessible website is not a question of a one-off fix, but requires that accessibility considerations become an integral part of Web design processes, so the site advances to increasing levels of accessibility as it evolves. The Web Accessibility Initiative suggests three levels, offering organisations a road-map over time to greater accessibility.
Furthermore, the feature focused mainly on the problems faced by users with sight problems. There are many other kinds of difficulties that can affect someone’s ability to use a website, such as problems with hand-eye co-ordination, which is common among the over-50s age group and can be easily solved by adding keyboard functionality if designers are aware of the need for this. Accessibility is an issue that won’t go away, and it’s imperative that marketers are aware of the full argument.
The Usability Company