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W3C Web Design: Website Design for Accessibility and Web Standards

W3C Web Design - St. Louis Web Design Company

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) develops interoperable technologies (specifications, guidelines, software, and tools) to lead the Web to its full potential.

At Silver Scope Design, we design our sites to be ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant, which meet the W3C compatibility standards, or web accessibility. Web accessibility refers to the practice of making Web pages accessible to people using a wide range of user agent devices, not just standard Web browsers. This is especially important for people with disabilities such as color blindness; in order to access the Web, such people require special devices in addition to (or instead of) a standard browser.

The disabilities that Web accessibility is intended to deal with are:

  • visual impairments including blindness, various common types of poor eyesight, various types of color blindness;
  • motor impairments, e.g. Parkinson's Disease, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, stroke;
  • cognitive impairments, e.g. poor short-term memory (as commonly caused by senile dementia), dyslexia;
  • deafness or hearing impairments.

In addition, while not knowing the language of a particular Web site is not strictly a disability, it represents a barrier to accessibility. Machine translation software is evolving toward being able to deal with this problem.

Benefits of W3C Web Design and Web Accessibility

Designing websites with accessibility in mind can often enhance usability for all users; these users also include automated access to the site, such as search engines.

W3C Web Design & Website Accessibility

A key to accessibility is to let people access content in their preferred way. This can benefit fully able users as well as those with disabilities: for example, some people may prefer icons and others may prefer text; even fully able people may want to adjust text sizes depending on their viewing circumstances; search engines, like blind people, generally cannot make much use of graphics.

Different sites will require different degrees of concern for accessibility. For example: a site providing information specific to ADHD needs to be easily accessible by people with ADHD; a government site of general interest or a resource directory for people in crisis would need to take into account as many disabilities as possible in order to be available to all citizens.

Many people with visual impairments or dyslexia will want to change the colors of text or the background to make it easier to read. Many people with dyslexia or ADHD will want to stop moving images on the screen whilst they are reading, as they are easily distracted. People with ADHD may also be confused or distracted by link-rich sites: they can have difficulty when presented with so many options.

For example, hyperlinks that can only be followed by clicking on them with a mouse are impossible to use for those who can only use a keyboard or screen reader to interact with their computer. Information provided only in audio format can not be accessed by people who are deaf, and if provided only in graphic format information is invisible to people who are blind.

Designing sites in accordance with Web accessibility principles is necessary to enable access for all users.