Thursday, October 30, 2008

Is your web site 508 compliant?

Talk to most web developers, and it's a good bet that most have never heard of 508 compliance. Yet, if you are doing web development work where the site acts as an interface with customers who have disabilities, it's time to take a serious look. To one friend and colleague, 508 compliance for many public sites is like a federal building where the folks in wheel chairs have to be carried up the steps to get inside it.

With new tools available, it's time for the government and commercial web developers to start updating their sites so that they can become 508 compliant. Like the lawsuits that brought about the changes resulting in the American With Disabilities compliance for new construction, it's only a matter of time before a similar round of lawsuits occur against government and companies like a public utility or even the local grocery store chain.

1 comment:

qotu said...

Matt, thanks for spreading the word about website accessibility. There are many reasons for web designers and developers to get really good at this, some altruistic and many based in self-interest.

Audience size.The disabled audience is much larger than people think. Baby boomers who need to size the text bigger. The temporarily disabled, such as people with a wrist brace or injury. Colorblind folks are between 6-10% of the general population.

SEO. One "blind and deaf" user most of us care a lot about is the GoogleBot. Code for Section 508 and your search rankings climb.

Clean code works better across platforms. Following the W3C checkpoints means your code fares better when viewed by different devices (mobile) and browsers.

I volunteer time for Knowbility, a nonprofit that specializes in the web accessibility issue. Here's a web accessibility movie we created to explain our main event, the Accessibility Internet Rally (AIR).