On the Web, an All Access Pass Shouldn’t Come at Such a Premium

In 1990, with the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and again in 1998 with the passing of the Section 508 amendments to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Americans with disabilities won victories toward the better use of technology for all. Like curb-cuts outside office buildings or wheelchair-accessible bathrooms, the purpose of these acts was to enact laws which would (hopefully) guarantee many disabled members of society a more balanced and comfortable way to accomplish day-to-day activities that the majority of Americans take for granted. Section 508 and the later WCAG–supplementary guidelines on accessibility from the governing group of the Internet, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)–are both instrumental in ensuring access to emerging technologies. With the importance of mobile, connective technology such as Web applications and company intranets, more and more Americans depended on technology to run their businesses and their lives. All of which mandated a certain level of Web accessibility to access information and perform tasks virtually such as email. Most of the Web sites are currently (relatively) easy for Americans without disabilities to navigate. Visual clues, clean layouts, roll-over navigation, and streaming video are all commonplace technologies used to navigate the Web. Many of these, however, pose problems to Americans with disabilities: blind users cannot see where the navigation is on a page, deaf users cannot hear the content presented in a streaming video,...

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