sue watling

Disability in the built environment

I love the WAI part of W3C. The language is user-friendly, the layout intuitive and above all they talk about what matters, the accessibility of digital design.

I love it even more because the WAI have changed their definition of web accessibility. It now says

Web accessibility also benefits people without disabilities. For example, a key principle of Web accessibility is designing Web sites and software that are flexible to meet different user needs, preferences, and situations. This flexibility also benefits people without disabilities in certain situations, such as people using a slow Internet connection, people with “temporary disabilities” such as a broken arm, and people with changing abilities due to aging. {their emphasis] http://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/accessibility.php

About time too!

When it comes to web design, it would be really good if we could stop categorising people into dis-abled or abled and just think about inclusive design being a prerequisite for all online content. When it comes to digital resources we are all designers. Whether its lecture notes, presentation slides, handbooks, images or a letter to your Mum, it involves decisions about layout, text, file size, name and formats etc. There is useful advice out there but most people design for themselves and miss the diversity of ways in which other people use computers and access the internet.

We need to remember, you don’t have to fit the government definition of disabled to have visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, or neurological difference.

Lest we forget, we are probably all dis-abled in some way or another.



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