Web Site Accessibility

August 20, 2019

Over the years, the DarkCyber team has had to create Web sites which conform to the ADA and 508 guidelines for Web site accessibility. In that same span of time, Web sites have become more and more difficult to use, not just for individuals with disabilities but for people in general.

We noted “The Internet’s Accessibility Reckoning.” We found the information and point of view in the article generally in line with our ideas.

This passage captures the sentiment often expressed:

In order to be accessible to consumers with disabilities, businesses often need to update their website’s software code to work with screen readers and other technologies that make websites more accessible to those with disabilities.

This observation seems accurate as well:

Inconsistent court rulings and regulatory positions on the issue over the years have brought little clarity on whether businesses have to legally update their software, leaving millions of Americans unable to access retail and consumer websites.

DarkCyber wants to point out that Web sites evokes an image of a large computer and a desktop monitor. The reality is that the majority of Internet access is from:

  • Mobile devices, some of which have tiny screens and interface elements which are impossible for a person with a vision impairment, no matter how slight, to identify and press accurately.
  • Internet of Things devices which assume a person can talk to the gizmo and it will deliver the desired function.
  • Behind-the-scenes or predictive services which display what an algorithm determines the user requires.

The problem with each of these interface “spaces” is that the article does not discuss them, few Web designers think about them, and most regulators are unable to perceive these issues.

To sum up, making Web sites accessible is a bit more difficult than writing a regulation that adequately addresses each of these three areas. The word “reckoning” might be missing the mark. Perhaps “impossibility”?

Stephen E Arnold, August 20, 2019

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