Web Design for the Disabled

Website design is a complex field that incorporates several different artistic, conceptual and technical methods that mingle together to create an informational, educational or entertaining online experience. For the majority of end-users, a website is a multi-media experience that can captivate the senses, but not every web surfer has the ability to enjoy a website on the same level. Making a website friendlier for those with disabilities increases the audience and can endear a brand or company within the minds of everyone.

Web design for the disabled takes into account several physical issues, including vision and hearing impairment and mobility issues, as well as comprehension and learning disabilities. Simple web design techniques that can be learned through a campus-based or online web design degree program include underlining links for those affected by color blindness, and using “alt text” tags on images that can be translated by software and verbalized to a visually-impaired web surfer.

Closed-captioned videos for the hearing impaired enable those users to enjoy many forms of multi-media content. Including the ability to resize images and text on a web page helps users with mobility concerns click larger images and text that can link to relevant content, and a website that is easy to navigate with a keyboard is especially useful when a person cannot manipulate a mouse.

These techniques, and others, are defined by Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) of the World Wide Web Consortium Web Accessibility Initiative (W3C WAI). 508 Compliance is necessary when working within any website connected to a U.S. Government agency.

Designing websites for the disabled ensures that everyone has the ability to access information online with as little hassle as possible. Since one in five Americans suffers from a disability, these standards affect a large portion of the population. For the professional web design professional, designing these types of websites and learning compliance with federal regulations can easily be attained through a college, university or online web design degree program.

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