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Chapter 9. Web Site Usability and Access... > Helping Users Access Your Site

Helping Users Access Your Site

Accessibility is closely related to usability but has important differences. Making sites accessible involves designing sites that allow people with disabilities to access the content of that site. Many individuals with disabilities (ranging from motor and visual impairments to cognitive and seizure disorders) have special needs when it comes to using Web sites. Some of these individuals depend on assistive technologies, which have special requirements in order to work properly. Other individuals have difficulties with color schemes, blinking content, confusing navigation, or audio‐only content. Properly planned and executed Web sites vastly improve the user experience for these individuals.

A site that doesn't plan for accessibility issues can be difficult or impossible for some visitors to use; some types of organizations are required to comply with laws pertaining to Section 508a of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Details about these laws are beyond the scope of this book, but you can find more information at the United States Access Board Web site (www.access-board.gov). The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which creates standards for Web development, has created a Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI/WCAG or Web Accessibility Initiative/Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) that helps site developers make their sites accessible. For more information, go to www.w3.org/wai/.


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