When Accessibility Gets Sidelined
The RNIB puts sight loss in the UK at about 2million people, which they estimate is about 1 in every 30 people in the country. That's the number of people with significant loss, and of those over 364,000 (as of March 2006) are
registered as severely sight impaired (blind) or sight impaired (partially sighted). Catering for these people is easy on the web isn't it thouhg? Just chuck alt text into images and you're done right? Sadly, this seems to be a popular train of thought for some and really misses the point. Here are just some disabilities it fails to help, and that's me running off a few from the top of my head:
- Colour blindness
- Reading/learning disability
- Motor/movement disability
- Hearing problems
I think part of this issue is that people building websites tend to be devoid of the worst of these disabilities themselves, so the main reference they will have is through the people they know. If you concede that people's social circles don't extend far beyond their work and recreation, there will be less a chance of web developers/designers meeting people who suffer and seeing their problems first-hand. That's purely conjecture, but I can think of no other strong reasons why this issue constantly receives little thought or care.
I'll be giving this some more thought in the coming weeks, as I'm finding time and again that I need to explain it to people who really ought to know better but don't.