More thoughts from Year One of Blogging

Come November 12th, it’ll be one year since my first blog post here at Last time, I shared some general thoughts from my rookie season as a blogger. From the ease of WordPress to the struggle of posting frequency (and with quality), it’s been both challenging and fun.

What about, specifically, accessibility – the subject I’ve chosen for my adventures in blogging? I can’t begin to capture all that I’ve learned, but a few revelations immediately struck me when I first tackled the subject.

The visually impaired aren’t the only web users with disabilities
Perhaps in part because of well-publicized stories like Target getting sued by the American Federation of the Blind, there seems to be a large focus of accessibility attention on visual disabilities. At times it seems to overshadow the fact that there are many other disabilities that require web designers to be diligent in their standards and best practices.

Even among the visually disabled, there are more obstacles than not being able to see. Those with color blindness encounter their own problems — certain color combinations can make it very difficult for them to effectively make out what’s being communicated or conveyed on a page.

Individuals with neuromuscular restrictions, brain damage, or just difficulties fully using their hands rely on other means to use their computers and get around the Web. This can be keyboard navigation, or even sip-and-puff technology. Whatever the means, it is an entirely different user experience with its own trappings and limitations depending on how accessible the site is. As one example, if a site’s tabbing progression is out of order, these users will have a heck of a time trying to get where they need to go.

Deaf users encounter their own obstacles, such as lack of captions or text recaps for many online video. The Web is still way behind television, where closed captioning is prevalent. Video is becoming more and more commonplace, particularly as social media flourishes….and while progress is being made, there’s a long, long way to go.

There are also many cognitive disabilities that make web surfing challenging. Those with attention disorders can be distracted or disrupted by excessive movement, blinking or flashing. Those with reading or problem-solving limitations will be able to more easily navigate a web site if the messaging is clear, and the navigation consistent and easy to follow.

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