Where Can One Find Accessibility Expertise?

by Donna J. Jodhan

Where can one find accessibility expertise to help in the web design/development/support cycle?

One would be surprised to learn how close at hand this expertise is and how available it can be. It's right here in our backyards; blind and partially sighted people themselves. Blind and partially sighted people are becoming more involved in website activities and are being used more as testers, evaluators, and as experts when it comes to deciding how to implement accessibility features into the design and development of websites.

For who better than these people to tell you how best and what is best to do when it comes to accessibility? They bring a lifetime of experiences to the table. Their knowledge of access technology (software and hardware) is second to none, and they, better than anyone else, can guide you on how to design and develop screens.

They can help you to better understand what combination of foreground and background colors are needed in order to make the screen more readable to them. They can help you to learn how their software interacts with websites; how their software interacts with graphics, icons, images, and drop-down and pop-up menus.

In order to further clarify this picture, I'd like you to consider the following. If you're in business to provide products for diabetics, how would you go about determining the measurement of demand? Would you ask a database of non diabetic consumers for feedback or would you rather ask one that is made up of diabetics. Chances are that nine out of 10 times you would consult the latter.

One of the most common pitfalls for companies occurs when they attempt to use fully sighted expertise to help them design and develop accessibility features. A sighted person may be able to understand but when it comes down to the finite points, they will never be able to fully understand what is needed and why. For how could they? They use their eyes to navigate and blind and partially sighted people use their ears to do the same.

In like manner, blind and partially sighted people are not fully able to understand how sighted people use their eyes to navigate and interact with websites. So the next time you are faced with who can provide you with accessibility expertise, look no further than the blind and partially sighted community. All you need to do is to ensure that they are regular website surfers and that they are regular users of access technology.

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day. If you'd like to learn more about me, then you can visit some of my blog spots at:
Donna Jodhan! Advocating accessibility for all: http://www.donnajodhan.blogspot.com
Weekly Saturday postings on issues of accessibility: http://www.sterlingcreations.ca/blog/blog.html
blogs on various issues and answers to consumers concerns: http://www.sterlingcreations.com/businessdesk.htm

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