Most of us think accessibility is just a technology.
- A technology to make persons with disabilities comfortable on world wide web.
- A technology to provide barrier free public environment.
- A technology helping persons with disabilities use the products comfortably and so on.
But providing accessible solutions involves careful and logical thinking, clear understanding of the problems of persons with disabilities, sensitivity towards disability, non-compromise on interests of persons without disabilities, non-compromise on functionality and look & feel etc.
Understanding the requirements of persons with disabilities
Techies who develop an accessible product or an accessible website should understand the needs of persons with disabilities.
Eg: Providing alternate text for images on a web page is a technical solution. This makes a screen reader user (blind user) comfortable on world wide web. Every web developer who cares for accessibility know this simple and straight point. Very few web developers are aware what alternate text will be appropriate for the blind user.
Many of the developers provide accessible solutions for their website, product or the physical environment. They often forget to think if the person with disability can really use it?
Eg: The builders who construct the huge buildings take care that a ramp is available for the wheel chair user instead of stairs. The same builders will put a couple of steps to reach the ramp. The wheel chair user will not be comfortable reaching that ramp. So the wheel chair user will not be able to use the accessible solution.
Sensitivity towards disability
People who work in the field of accessibility should have sensitivity towards disability. Person who is not ready to understand the problem faced by a disability will not be able to provide the solution to it. A simple logic is unless you know the problem you will not be able to provide the solution. To understand the problem you need to be sensitive towards disability.
I know many web developers who care of accessibility test their application by closing their eyes while testing with screen readers. They themselves sit in the shoes of a blind person to understand if the solution they have providing is accurate. I know the developers who use only keyboard while testing the website to ensure that a person with physical disability feels comfortable without using the mouse.
So friends donâ€™t think accessibility is just a technology, it is much more than what we really think.