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Accessible design is the process of designing a website (or anything really) with attention to the various needs or users in mind. So, making the “whatever” (in this case an internet/web resource) available to users with any and all foreseeable impairments: visual, auditory, mobility as well as those across all platforms and browsers.

The difference between accessibility and usability remains in the details. A website may be functional and meet the usability guidelines, but may be inaccessible to users for a variety of reasons. For example navigation across all pages may be simple and straightforward, and brilliant and shining example of textbook navigation… but may require a double click of the mouse button to be used. If a user lacks the motor skills to double click, the “reader” software they are using is unable to be commanded to double click because of lack of usable code, or it is in a too small font size or a color that is not clearly defined or even if the user is using a cell phone and is not able to “double click” it is irrelevant how pretty and usable the navigation is.

The need to make sure that a web design is both useable and accessible should be pretty obvious. If the majority do not find it useable they won’t and if some percentage are not able to access the information they won’t…bottom line is that you are preventing people from knowing about your brilliance 😉

I joke, but you want people to stay on your site to learn, for you to make a profit, to hear your thoughts…whatever it may be. If you have spent time creating make sure that the largest number of people can appreciate your time and effort. Or else, why bother.

Some of the tools and techniques we have used in the past assignments to assure accessibility are:

1) making sure that we always enter for any image we post to pages. In order for the visually impaired to know that there is an image and to know what that image is of or about the alt text code must be entered. Making sure that it is short and descriptive as possible is a good thing.

2) We made sure to use row and column heading is all tables created. Again for the reader SW to know that there is a table and to function properly this is an easy necessary step. By using the

code it can be assured that everyone can understand the table.

3) By designing the HTML page before adding CSS (or styles) we can be sure that it still looks fine if someone wishes to turn off our styles. The page may not be a lovely as we want it to be, but at least they have the information and that is what actually counts. If done in this order, one can be assured how the page will behave first, then add the fancy stuff.