Deep Ties Bind Accessibility, Mobile Web

Susan Hall

Shawn Lawton Henry, who leads worldwide education and outreach activities for the Worldwide Web Consortium's Web Accessibility Initiative, says there's a lesson for mobile developers in its Web Accessibility Guidelines.


"About nine years ago I was involved with a young startup," she explained, "and our Web site was designed to be 100 percent accessible. That was considered a priority. We didn't even think about mobile devices."

 

"Then about a year later, our CEO got one of those fancy, new-fangled phones that surf the Internet, and the first thing she wanted to do was to go to our Web site. It worked great. It was very cool. Most Web sites at the time were really awful on it."

 

As mobility continues its skyward trajectory, the consortium, also known as W3C, has found the requirements for accessing mobile content deeply intertwined with those to help people with disabilities use desktop or laptop computers-and mobile devices.

 

The W3C in May published a third draft updating its Mobile Web Best Practices, initially published in July 2008. It released its Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 in December and will publish in the next month or so a study of the relationship between the two. She said those ties with mobile also help make the business case for accessibility.



Henry says the accessibility guidelines, which I wrote about earlier, are designed to be broad enough to apply to a desktop, a smartphone or any other device.
The overlap gets really interesting, she says, when it comes to surfing the Web on a mobile device.

 

"Either you only see a small bit of the Web page at a time or the font is really small, those kinds of things," she says. "Those issues that everybody has when using a mobile device are very similar to what many people with disabilities have using just a desktop or laptop computer."

 

Indeed, this video of AbilityNet consultant Johann De Boer explaining his difficulties with screen magnification on his desktop feels eerily similar to those smartphone users' experience.

 

Other common problems-having trouble hearing in a noisy place, having trouble typing in data on the keyboard, finding navigation too confusing-also reflect the kinds of problems people with various types of disabilities have.

 

While there's disagreement within the industry over whether it makes more sense to create separate mobile content, the W3C advocates for a single set of content, a concept called One Web. Opera Software's Bruce Lawson makes that case in this ZDNet Asia piece.

 

Henry, meanwhile, says that in the past people focused on accessibility and those focused on mobile devices often didn't understand the bigger picture. But doing so, she says, can help everyone.

 

Speaking at the European Accessibility Forum in Germany earlier this year, Dominique Hazal-Massieux, the W3C's Mobile Web Initiative Activity Lead, said the two areas tend to be seen differently.

 

Mobile is seen as fun and exciting, attracting lots of young people, while accessibility is seen as changing users' lives by allowing them access to new information or to interact in new ways.

 

"Any effort you put into accessibility will make your Web site more mobile friendly," he added.



Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post

Sep 10, 2010 4:46 AM CAAS CAAS  says:

I think what Shawn described here has got a point. After all, we just cannot deny the fact that mobile web has grown to an outstanding level. Besides, each day we can see more and more people are joining the mobile web and simultaneously more and more websites are also on a substantial rise. I think the fancy thought from your CEO has done a great deal in sorting out the recent web issue here assuring insurance!

Reply
Oct 26, 2010 6:51 AM Traduction Traduction  says:

Google CEO has talked some time ago that once in the future they expect more revenue to be generated from the mobile web than from the desktop pcs. Quite a statement, but perhaps that is why they are so interested in the mobile market through their Android software. It is really interesting to see how important the mobile market has become and how the worldwide market leader, Nokia, is really struggling in this environment.

Reply
Dec 1, 2010 11:30 AM Jonathen fren Jonathen fren  says:

I provide 3 websites and see how important Accessibility for mobile websites is. Maybe i found w3c is not soo important - many old browser and new browser are not compatible with the "old" w3c rightlines.

Reply
Dec 31, 2010 4:02 AM Amy Rose Amy Rose  says:

It's amazing to me how many major websites still look absolutely terrible on mobile devices. Do the managers never look at their site on their phone?

Reply
Feb 1, 2011 5:03 AM Frank Webby Frank Webby  says:

Honestly, I'm a bit sceptical if this mobile trend on the web will really keep going and if it will affect other target audiences as well. At the moment it's a must have if you target young people, but I'm not sure if the older generations will jump on the train, too. It's an interesting hype for sure, but I don't see any substinantial value in it so far.

Reply
Feb 25, 2011 6:34 AM auto ali auto ali  says:

Recently I have been reading a few complaints from people accessibility issues. They say that many sites are not friendly at all and they can not handle it. The thing is that most webmasters need professional help on this area. Recently I tried to make my website a bit more friendly. I have wasted a lot of time and have gone nowhere with it. My site shows differently in different platforms. So it would make sense for me to ask an expert to help me on that and I concentrate on creating content.

Reply
May 23, 2011 2:00 AM James James  says:

Mobile web has grown beyond imagination. Five years ago, I was very happy to have a phone with an mp3 ring tone and today I want to have a video call with my family while I browse wireless on the internet and receive all business emails. Now that's progress.

However, websites and browser are one step back. Most websites shows only the most important content and browsers, related to connection, have all kind of bugs, from not showing pictures correctly to closing by itself when face a https page. In my opinion, this  is only because desktop users are still in a large number comparing to mobile users. But, balance is changing very fast and webmasters and CEO thinking is changing along with it.

Reply
Nov 11, 2011 1:13 AM Paul Paul  says:

There's plenty of new software now on the market to make mobile webs. I believe one of the best is a wordpress theme that make a normal web page and one for the mobile... Here is a review and where to access it:

WordPress Mobile Pack

WordPress Mobile Pack is another quality plugin. I have only tested it (not used it) but I know several website owners who do use the plugin and love it. The plugin is updated frequently to keep pace with bugs and WordPress software updates and that's a must in my opinion.

The only obvious drawback that I've seen is that the themes are difficult to customize unless you are savvy with that sort of thing.

You can find the above plugins by searching for them on the Word Press.org site

Reply
Nov 27, 2011 12:27 PM Roberts Roberts  says: in response to James

However, websites and browser are one step back. Most websites shows only the most important content and browsers, related to connection, have all kind of bugs, from not showing pictures correctly to closing by itself when face a https page. In my opinion, this  is only because desktop users are still in a large number comparing to mobile users. But, balance is changing very fast and webmasters and CEO thinking is changing along with it. Honestly, I'm a bit sceptical if this mobile trend on the web will really keep going and if it will affect other target audiences as well. At the moment it's a must have if you target young people, but I'm not sure if the older generations will jump on the train, too. It's an interesting hype for sure, but I don't see any substinantial value in it so far.

Reply
Dec 2, 2011 4:23 AM erick erick  says:

i found that wordpress has special plugins just to make our sites ready for mobile devices. i think the plugin is known as wp touch pro

Reply
Dec 7, 2011 3:49 AM Karla Queit Karla Queit  says: in response to James

You can find the above plugins by searching for them on the Word Press.org site

Reply
Dec 8, 2011 11:10 AM rehan rehan  says: in response to erick

Where I can find this plugin?And does it really work?

Reply
Dec 9, 2011 9:21 AM Jason Jason  says: in response to rehan

I have found these plugins on Wordpress without any difficulties.

Reply
Jan 3, 2012 7:48 AM verizon promo code verizon promo code  says:

I have worked with the Visually Impaired for years and frankly nothing has done more for Visual Impairment than mobile phones. I now teach my clients to automatically check for the "mobile friendly" link on sites. Not all sites have them but those that do make reading the sites easier.

For people who want to get an idea what it is like to look at sites through the eyes of a visually impaired person, you can try ZoomText, Jaws, or Dolphin. These are all great programs and many times you can get trial versions. It will let you look at a few sites (or your own) and get a sample of what a visually impaired person sees or hears when visiting your site.

Notice a visually impaired person could not leave a comment because there is no sound option available. So a person reading this page in braille is out of luck as there is no way to click a sound button for the captcha

Reply
Jan 7, 2012 2:02 AM Claire Claire  says: in response to auto ali

I do agree that most webmasters need professional help on this by experts in this area, but they also must make effort on creating content for mobile platforms.

Reply
Jan 8, 2012 7:39 AM Jhon Mac Jhon Mac  says: in response to verizon promo code

These are all great programs and many times you can get trial versions. It will let you look at a few sites (or your own) and get a sample of what a visually impaired person sees or hears when visiting your site.

Reply
Jan 9, 2012 5:45 AM Lujo Lujo  says:

Mobile Web Application Best Practices from W3C have proven extremely useful for us while developing mobile versions for our websites. There have been an update last december that includes several important modifications, you can check it at the W3C.

Reply
Jan 9, 2012 6:20 AM videojogos videojogos  says:

For me the best way to go is to create spin-offs. I've tried for a while to please both desktop and mobile users within the same site and it was completely impracticable. Now, targeting each audience, things are going much more smoothly. Off course I'd always leave an open channel between the platforms, but, in my experience, trying to please different audiences with different needs, is just going to get more difficult over time. Specialization would be my answer. Cheers!

Reply
Jan 13, 2012 1:13 AM Mundo Humor Mundo Humor  says:

Great notice for me!

Reply
Jan 13, 2012 1:50 AM Kurtlar Vadisi Pusu son blm izle Kurtlar Vadisi Pusu son blm izle  says: in response to Mundo Humor

I do agree that most webmasters need professional help on this by experts in this area, but they also must make effort on creating content for mobile platforms.

Reply
Jan 13, 2012 2:23 AM century 21 broker properti jual beli sewa rumah indonesia century 21 broker properti jual beli sewa rumah indonesia  says:

great article ..

Reply
Jan 13, 2012 2:44 AM real estate investing real estate investing  says:

My girlfriend is one of the rare colorblind women. I think you don't realize how important this is until you are personally affected. Shawn covers some excellent points that are hard to disagree with.

Reply
Jan 16, 2012 10:54 AM registracija domena registracija domena  says: in response to CAAS

It's amazing to me how abounding above websites still attending actually abhorrent on adaptable devices. Do the managers never attending at their armpit on their phone?

Reply
Mar 3, 2013 5:15 AM Hung Janes Hung Janes  says:
In so many ways, I am more angered by the so called generic spammer� than by the less artful spammer. Why? Because at least the spammer is completely open and honest about their spam! We can spot who they are. The so called generic commenter is a liar and also a charlatan You can probably see that I have very strong towards these type of people Reply
Mar 16, 2013 11:48 PM dinelson dinelson  says:
Accessibility is definitely an important issue in our world. MOre and more people as well as companies have been paying more attention to making their products and services more accessible to those who are interested in them. People who have some form of disadvantage deserve great opportunities too, so it's great we can give them to them. Reply

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