Friday, October 26, 2007

Is an Accessible website always Usable?

Combining usability and accessibility ...

"Making a website accessible will go some way to making it usable, but it may not necessarily mean that the website will be ‘easy to use’.

In the UK an estimated 2 million people have a vision impairment, 1.5 million have cognitive difficulties and 3.4 million have a disability which prevents them using the standard keyboard, screen and mouse set-up. These figures do not account for the 6 million users with dyslexia, the many millions who experience literacy difficulties and those where English is not their first language. Additionally, there is a growing number of elderly ‘silver surfers’ who are generally less confident about using computers and would significantly benefit from having a more accessible and usable interface.

... A strict focus on accessibility does not in itself create an accessible and usable website. We need to go above and beyond the technical aspects provided by WCAG and take into account the ‘human factors’ of browsing a website. We need to be aware of how users with disabilities access and use websites such as those accessing with screen readers, voice recognition and magnification software.

The benefits of usable accessibility are demonstrated more clearly in situations where accessibility checkpoints have been achieved but sites remain unusable. It is not until the website is tested by real users that these usability issues are exposed. Engaging disabled users in testing the website with real tasks, in addition to following the accessibility guidelines is the only guaranteed way of ensuring everyone can use the website easily and effectively.

For this reason, accessibility and usability should be combined to ensure the website can be accessed by the widest possible audience. AbilityNet is able to offer information, advice and a range of services to help make a website accessible and usable for everyone – including accessibility audits, disabled end user testing, training, support, accessible web design and a range of useful resources."    (Continued via Usability News)    [Usability Resources]


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