Responsible web design includes making pages accessible even to users with disabilities, such as hearing, sight, cognitive, or motor skills impairments. Millions of people have disabilities that affect their access to information on the Web.
Many disabled users take advantage of assistive technologies for web browsing, both for input and output. For instance, some people have disabilities that make it impossible to input information using a standard keyboard or mouse. Instead, they may use a speech input device or a simple pointer attached to a headset. Others have disabilities that hinder the way they get information from a page. Vision impaired users may use a text browser (such as Lynx) in conjunction with software that reads the contents of the screen aloud. Some use devices that translate the text into Braille for tactile reading.
For most sites, accessibility is proper web design etiquette; for government web sites, it is the law. Section 508 (effective June 25, 2001) mandates that all Federal agencies’ electronic and information technology be accessible to people with disabilities. For more information, see http://www.section508.gov.
By promoting accessibility for those with disabilities, content becomes more available to all users, regardless of the device they use to access the Web. This includes any alternative to the standard desktop graphical browser, such as palmtop computers or automobile dashboard browsing systems. Even users who have graphics ...