Accessibility is about making it as easy as possible for all members of society to fully take part in that society. It is about removing barriers. It is about inclusion and empowerment. It is about creating the sort of world that we all want to live in - a message that should resonate with us all.
This year, the UK government gave “a clear commitment to ensuring that all government websites and online services present no barriers to use for those with disabilities”. It has also promised “a renewed focus on the use of e-inclusion as a route to social inclusion”.
Accessibility's profile within the Internet industry has never been higher, which is a good thing for all those people who have benefited from the improvements that have been made to a large number of websites.
Unfortunately, most people's understanding of accessibility relates exclusively to visually-impaired users - to the point, in fact, where these two terms are often used interchangeably.
Well, it's time that we all realised that there are other groups of users out there who need - and deserve - support.
The Code of Practice for part III of the Disability Discrimination Act defines a disabled person as:
Someone who has a physical or mental impairment which has an effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
People with learning difficulties have received a particularly raw deal (almost a million people in the UK have learning difficulties). This audience group is even mentioned specifically in the Code of Practice:
Webcredible's analysis of usability testing sessions involving participants with learning difficulties has led to our suggesting these guidelines when designing for these users: