According to both professional standards, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines distributed by the World Wide Web Consortium (http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10), and legal standards, including Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act (http://www.section508.gov), the responsibility of ensuring that content is accessible falls on the content provider.
Accessibility refers to the potential for all users to access content electronically. Enabling electronic access to content generally requires an awareness of both the many types of disabilities that can prevent a user from accessing content and the assistive technologies that are used to overcome barriers to accessing content. Indeed, assistive technologies remove much of the burden of making content accessible.
The U.S. Census Bureau in 1997 estimated that nearly 20% of individuals in the United States have one or more disabilities. In a country with roughly 280 million citizens, that is more than 50 million people. Professional and legal frameworks have emerged to facilitate, promote, and even force content providers to meet the needs of these users. In addition to the moral and legal reasons to do so, making content accessible makes good business sense. Benefits include the following:
Organizations extend their reach to a broader—and often underserved—audience.
Organizations communicate to all users that they take customer needs seriously.
By making content accessible, organizations also make ...