United Nations takes a crack at online accessibility issues

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I ran across information on a recent United Nations accessibility review of 100 different Web sites from 20 countries around the world.  Their grade?  Big Fat F for Failure

Only 3 of those 100 actually made a decent score, which is just pathetic.  Specifically:

  1. German chancellor's site: http://www.bundeskanzlerin.de
  2. British prime minister's site: http://www.primeminister.gov.uk
  3. Spanish government site:  http://www.la-moncloa.es/default.htm

 

Online accessibility really hits close to home for me.  My younger brother is legally blind (among other physical issues), but an extremely devoted Internet junkie.  Email and Google are like Oxygen to him - but he can only access these with the help of screen readers, enlargers and custom-designed computer hardware.

Intellectually, my brother is a genius and the Internet is a fantastic vehicle for him to explore worlds and participate in conversations that he just can't get to with the way his body works.  As a sister it infuriates me that Web designers block him from achieving his online goals b/c of laziness or ignorance.

As an Internet professional, it's frustrating for me to see other Web-focused companies go halfway in their Web site efforts.  Cutting corners by not doing something as simple (yet amazingly functional) as adding alt-tags or by being careless with their Java Scripting, etc. Argh.

From the UN press release:  Websites, according to the Guidelines, must allow users, particularly those who used web readers, to easily adjust text size, to easily navigate through a website, to easily differentiate between colours, to offer an alternative to JavaScript that prevents many people from accessing key information, and by allowing keyboard shortcuts.

“Fully accessible websites are not only good for persons with disabilities, they are good for everyone,” Mr. Schindlmayr said.  “Persons with disabilities shop, they travel and they need information just like everyone else.  Allowing people to exercise their human rights and play their full part in the economic, social and political lives of their societies just makes good sense all around.”

International efforts like this and national efforts like Knowbility's Accessibility Internet Rally (AIR) competitions will really make a difference for every single online user.  I am so appreciative of people that work so hard to make a difference online.