Is your Internet site accessible?

Submitted by Bryan Ruby on Tue, 01/23/2007 - 23:08

Is your Internet site accessible?

This fork of Joomla to improve accessibility interested me

Accessible (a8e) Joomla! is a Joomla! fork that conforms to accessibility guidelines and web standards. A8e Joomla! will follow regular Joomla! releases. The project should implode when regular Joomla! finally conforms to the standards.

Accessibility of Internet sites is very huge within the federal government and addressed by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, 1998.

In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. Inaccessible technology interferes with an individual's ability to obtain and use information quickly and easily. Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, to make available new opportunities for people with disabilities, and to encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals. The law applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology.

About every Webmaster that I've talked to about accessibility, inside and outside of the federal government, agrees with the goals of accessibility. They're just not sure how best to design and manage their pages due to the rapidly changing online technology.

For example, you have a site that now introduces a podcast (audio recording). In order to make the contents of the podcast accessible to the hearing impaired...are you going to provide transcripts? If you're part of a large organization, the answer should be yes. But what if you're an independent blogger? You still have the same goals but do you really have the means to make that podcast accessible to all your visitors?

Either way, I am surprised to not see more open source projects get involved with accessibility. After all, is it truly open for all people if they can't hear or see what you have to say? I really think accessibility in the open source communities is likely to be the biggest challenges we will continuously face in the years to come.