Usable Accessibility


Excerpt from "Understanding Web Accessibility" chapter in Constructing Accessible Websites (2002):

Many designers and developers were recently introduced to accessibility because of regulations such as Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act in the US. In such cases, the focus of accessibility is often limited to meeting standards and guidelines for accessibility. This often puts the focus on the technical aspects of accessibility, and the human interaction aspect is lost.

Instead of focusing only on the technical aspects of accessibility, it is important to recognize that usability is also an important aspect of accessibility. Consciously addressing 'usable accessibility' helps clarify the difference between what meets minimum accessibility standards and what is usable by people with disabilities.

Setting a goal of usable accessibility will impact how you develop and evaluate solutions. To evaluate for usable accessibility, you need to interact with the rendered web pages in various configurations, preferably including usability testing that involves participants with disabilities.

In this way you go beyond technical accessibility to achieve usable accessibility.

The above is provided, with permission, from the "Understanding Web Accessibility" chapter by Shawn Lawton Henry in Constructing Accessible Websites (2002) (see updated Accessibility Books list)