Web Accessibility

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Date Submitted: 02/14/2011 10:12 PM

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There are various ways in which society assists people with disabilities. Major intersections have voice announcement to let visually impaired people know when it is safe to cross the street. Businesses build entry and exit ramps for people using wheelchairs. These accommodations help people with disabilities get around the physical world.

The web world has become equally important in this day and age. Being able to successfully and easily navigate around the web is just as important for people having various impairments. There is a number of assistive software that has been developed for precisely this purpose. Alternative keyboard and mouse are available. Speech recognition software allows users to say commands instead of typing. And there is software that acts as a magnifying glass on screen and can read out text loud. The web has become a very integral part of our life. Just like the web pages need to work with every possible browser type, it needs to work with all assistive technologies that are available.

Stages and Evolution

Websites go through various stages of evolution. In terms of accessibility, a typical site will go through the stages as depicted in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Stages and Evolution

This paper addresses the first stage of site evolution. Utility industry has a bigger role to play in promoting accessibility. Retail and Banking customers are in a competitive environment and need to do everything possible to retain or attract customers. Utility companies have been behind the curve when it comes to providing accessible web sites. Since utility industries provide service to everyone within a community, the need to have an accessible web site is really important.

Standards compliance is an integral part of creating functional and accessible websites. To provide an accessible site, there are two aspects that utilities need to take care of

1. Web Accessibility: This is to ensure that the site is compliant with the law, PUC...

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