What is web accessibility

Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can use the Web. More specifically, Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web, and that they can contribute to the Web. Web accessibility also benefits others, including older people with changing abilities due to aging.

Web accessibility encompasses all disabilities that affect access to the Web, including visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, and neurological disabilities. While web accessibility makes the content easier to use for everyone, it makes things possible for persons with disabilities.

For instance a blind user need to make a bank transaction using a screen reading software. A person with hearing challenges use online learning tutorials for an exam preparation. A person with physical disability rely on an online retail website for shopping. It is estimated that 2.1% of total population in India has some form of disability as per 2011 census. However World Health Organization (WHO estimated that 15% of the population through-out the world has some form of disability. Around 2-4% population experience severe difficulty in functioning.

With the increase in use of online medium for many activities, more emphasis on digital India, demmonetisation etc it is extremely important to make the online content and interaction accessible.

The web accessibility includes but not limited to the accessibility of websites, mobile applications, PDF, word and other documents available online. Web content also refers to live chat functionalities, audio/video content, forms and so on which are part of many websites.

What is meant by making web accessible?

Making web accessible means to ensure that the websites, mobile applications and other documents available online are perceived, understood, navigated, and interacted by every individual irrespective of their disabilities. Many laws including the recent Rights to Persons with Disabilities Act in India govern equal access and barrier free web content. The W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines WCAG 2.0 standards are the master set of rules recognized through-out the world to make the web content accessible. WCAG 2.0 standards are technical specifications laid as 12 guidelines spread across 4 principles perceivable, operable, understandable and robust. The success criteria under each guideline are the testable statements. Each success criteria are labeled with Levels A, AA and AAA. W3C WAI recommends to make the websites accessible as per WCAG 2.0 level A and Level AA standards. The success criteria in WCAG 2.0 are technology agnostic and hence can be applied to any technology including but not limited to desktop / mobile websites, mobile applications and documents such as PDFs available online.

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