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Getting Started

Information and resources to begin the journey to make your web content accessible to people with disabilities.

You may find it difficult to imagine what it would be like to be blind and use a screen reader to access the Web. Or you might cringe at the thought of being unable to use your mouse. But if you are willing to observe and learn, you will be surprised at how productive people with disabilities can be when they use assistive technology to access the Web. Perhaps most importantly, you will begin to appreciate the independence equal access to information offers.

Please take a few minutes to watch some of the videos linked from the Why Web Accessibility Matters page. If you have the opportunity, observe people with a range of disabilities using the Web with a variety of assistive technologies.  Soon, you'll begin to have a sense of how the decisions you make will affect these users. You'll be able to ask yourself questions about the user experience such as:

  • Can those who cannot use a mouse (such as screen reader and voice input users) navigate to everything on the site? Is focus maintained at all times?
  • Do the videos for which you are responsible have captions and transcripts for those who are hearing impaired or Deaf?
  • Are error messages on forms handled consistently and clearly? Are errors conveyed via both color and text?
  • Have you made the best choices possible in your code with respect to the use of page structure/semantic markup?
  • Do all of the images on your site that convey meaning have alternative text descriptions for those who need them?
  • Is the site content written in plain language to enable everyone to find what they need and understand what they are reading?

Answers to these questions, and more, can be found here on the SOAP (Stanford Online Accessibility Program) site. Take a look at Basic Checks to find out what you can begin to do to make small changes that will make a big difference.  Want to start doing just a little right away? Try writing usable content for the web or do a quick functional test.

We hope that you will realize the value and rewards that come from considering the needs of those who may input and receive information, and learn, in ways that differ from you. People with disabilities will welcome your empathy and openness, rather than your sympathy.

Last modified: 
October 20, 2016