An accessible product or service is one which can be used by all its intended users, taking into account their differing capabilities. [Irish IT Accessibility Guidelines]
A great example of technology accessibility is the mobile phone. Deaf and hearing-impaired people can use mobiles to keep in touch using text messaging. Vibrating phones allow deaf people to feel when their phone is ringing.
More everyday examples are pedestrian crossings with audible indicators and special footpath markings for people with vision impairments, or footpaths that have ramps to enable wheelchair users to cross roads more easily.
It is worth noting that many if not most improvements intended to facilitate people with disabilities also help able-bodied people too. Those wheelchair ramps are great for buggies!
Websites can also be made much more accessible and usable by making small changes that have a big impact, just as with the physical environment. Below are links to other websites that contain more detailed information on website accessibility.
- PDF documents can also be made accessible. See our list of PDF accessibility resources.
- http://accessit.nda.ie/ Irish IT Accessibility Guidelines, developed by the National Disability Authority.
- http://www.w3.org/WAI/ W3C Web Accessibility Initiative home page
- Frequently Asked Questions on Accessibility (W3C-WAI)
- http://www.diveintoaccessibility.org/, Mark Pilgrim. Excellent online tutorial on the how and why of accessibility.
- European Year of People with Disabilities, EU website
- http://www.section508.gov/ U.S. Section 508 website
- http://www.webaim.org/, Web Accessibility in Mind provides educational materials that raise awareness and assist post-secondary institutions in identifying and solving web accessibility problems.
- http://www.accessifyforums.com/ A selection of web forums discussing accessibility issues
- http://www.accessibleNet.org/ AccessibleNet.org is a web directory of links and resources for web accessibility (Matthew Ogston).
- Frontend.com Usability consultants, responsible for developing the Irish IT Accessibility guidelines on behalf of the NDA.
- Open Interface Usability and accessibility consultants, offering training courses and website design services
- IQ Content Website content consultants, offering writing and information architecture courses