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Inclusive technology
Need of the hour

- Ajay Balachandran

          Every organization has a website, each company owns their website, even as individuals we run our website.  There is so much content and information out there on the website. What if all these data couldn't reach all of its users just because of the way it is being built?  Are the websites accessible for its varied audience around the globe who may include persons with disabilities or are their needs being overlooked?  Let's discuss!

What is digital accessibility?


          Digital accessibility advocates the need for ensuring quality digital experience on the web for every single user.  It encompasses the various needs of persons with disabilities who require certain features on web based services or for those who are using their own assistive solutions in sync to make the content accessible.  The web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG) published by World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is the standard set of rules that makes the applications accessible.

          Through broad community input and encouraging consensus development, the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) puts forward their general guidelines and technical specifications for web based applications to help the resources accessible to people with disabilities. Digital accessibility is a commitment for the digital inclusion of disabled persons and fulfilling their information needs.

What are digital accessibility needs?

          The below-given stats explain well the need of digital accessibility.  As the WebAIM Million Report states, 98.1% of the home pages are spotted with a minimum of one WCAG 2.0 compliance failure.  The most common causes of accessibility failure are as follows:


          Similar to the provision of ramps, audible pedestrian system and Braille signs to facilitate better navigation for the PwDs in the physical world, there are certain features with the help of which a user can access contents without any barriers that can prevent the intended benefit of digital information.  Some of the most common modifications include the following:

  • Provision of description to images

  • Adding closed caption to videos

  • Provision of sufficient color contrast

  • Provision for text size adjustment

  • Provision to turn off animations

          Web accessibility depends on multiple components at par and improvements in certain elements improving the overall site user experience.  There are two ways in which the content has to be accessible

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1. Authoring tools accessibility: the software and tools used by web site developers for creating website.  This ensures the inclusion of developers with disabilities in the web development space.

2.  Assistive tools accessibility: the software and assistive technologies used by persons with disabilities to easily interact with the website content along with the browsers and media players.

The way ahead!


          The way ahead is much hopeful with more awareness of inclusion and accessibility being spread, read and being exercised.  With the introduction of technical solution frameworks like WAI-ARIA, (the Accessible Rich Internet Applications Suite) as the name suggests clearly outlines a way to make the web contents and applications even more accessible for PwDs.  It particularly deals with dynamic content or more advanced user interface controls which are created with HTML, JavaScript or other similar technologies.  It provides the web authors with specific roles that explain the type of widget presented, structure of the web page and also the properties to describe the state of widgets, if they are checked for a check box.  Also it includes the provision of navigation using keyboard for the web objects.  WAI-ARIA has already undergone two versions of update and is still in the process of development. 

A simple accessibility check


          If the whole concept of varied disabilities and the accessibility need sounds complex to you, here is the first step to start with. Check out this open source tool: axe DevTools from Deque Systems, the Axe Auditor effectively enables usability testers who has a minimal knowledge about accessibility.  

          Reference links:


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