Semantic HTML and sensible starting design
Web accessibility is the philosophy and practice of building web sites such that they can be accessed by everyone regardless of location, experience of hardware. For people with disabilities this in particularly important because the application of accessible principles will also help them access and navigate.
Broad application in Australia
In Australia, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) has stated that the provision of online services, such as websites, are covered by the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). It states as follows:
The provision of information and online services through the web is a service covered by the DDA. Equal access for people with a disability in this area is required by the DDA where it can reasonably be provided. This requirement applies to any individual or organisation developing a website or other web resource in Australia, or placing or maintaining a web resource on an Australian server. This includes web pages and other resources developed or maintained for purposes related to employment; education; provision of services including professional services, banking, insurance or financial services, entertainment or recreation, telecommunications services, public transport services, or government services; sale or rental of real estate; sport; activities of voluntary associations; or administration of Commonwealth laws and programs. All these are areas specifically covered by the DDA.
It is important to note that the above statement applies to any website build or hosted in Australia. This covers not just governments but private businesses and individuals.
However, there are many things which must be done over and above what is provided by the base platform.
- Designs must consider aspects such as colour contrast and font size.
- Content editors must add sensible alt tags to images.
- Content editors must use semantic elements when editing content.
Accessibility therefore becomes a multifaceted concern involving implementors, designers and editors.