At its core, the Web is about people being able to find and access information. That information may be for education, entertainment, e-commerce, etc. But increasingly, access to online information is essential to our daily lives. For people with disabilities who have access to the Internet, independent access to information offers an unprecedented amount of freedom.
Despite the prospects of this independence and freedom, it is all too easy to postpone incorporating accessibility improvements into an existing site, or decide not to include them in the requirements for a new site design. As Why Bother with Accessibility (by Laura Kalbag on 24 Ways) outlines, the excuses can be many:
After illustrating that none of these excuses are altogether valid, Kalbag concludes by pointing out that web accessibility requires knowledge of your users' needs, an understanding of your project's context, and the ability to balance the two.
Your types of content and interactions will dictate one set of constraints. Your users' needs and goals will dictate another. In broad terms, web design as a practice is finding the equilibrium between these constraints.
Here on the SOAP site, we aim to give you the guidance and tools you need to help you balance these constraints. The Tips and Tools section contains discussions of the kinds of content and interactions that you regularly encounter and that will benefit from attention to accessibility. In the Resources area of this page, we showcase the "goals and needs" of people with disabilities. Please take a few moments to learn more about the kinds of people you'll be helping when you consider accessibility early and often.