Accessibility and universal design: advantages and impact for business, government and developers


Judy Brewer (Web Accessibility Initiative International Program Office, World Wide Web Consortium)


Judy Brewer (Web Accessibility Initiative International Program Office, World Wide Web Consortium)


George Kerscher (Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, on assignment to the DAISY Consortium)
Dr. Steven Lucas (Matchlogic, Inc.)
Jutta Treviranus (Adaptive Technology Resource Centre, University of Toronto)
Cynthia Waddell (City of San Jose, California, U.S.A.)

Panelist perspectives

George Kerscher (RFB&D and DAISY Consortium),
The accessibility improvements in HTML 4.0, and appropriate use of style sheets, will result in greater usability for all.

Steve Lucas (MatchLogic)
The Internet has become an integral part of our lives, providing us with a rich communication medium.  This medium is used by millions of people every day to exchange ideas, purchase goods and services, conduct research, and find employment.  It is clear that unless we provide a mechanism to allow accessibility by everyone, those without access will become disenfranchised.

Jutta Treviranus (Adaptive Technology Resource Centre),
Accessibility is the challenge that will finally push the Web to become the ubiquitous tool for interactive sharing that it was meant to be.  Creating an environment which is welcoming to billions of users with widely varying motivations, capabilities and needs is not a fringe goal but the critical goal.  Inclusive design will not hamper the speed of Web development, instead it will stretch the envelope and guide the rapid growth of a truly useful World Wide Web.

Cynthia Waddell (City of San Jose),
As the capital of Silicon Valley, the City of San Jose is proud to be a national leader in Web accessibility implementation for government.  Public policy and legal compliance in the U.S. requires the removal of barriers to effective communication and commerce.  By accommodating members of our diverse community, government can play a catalytic role in promoting a sustainable community.

Panel description

This panel will examine the various motivations for accessible Web development and design, and how a universal design approach benefits all users.  Panelists will discuss business, regulatory and social motivations for accessibility; examine how adequate the existing tools are from a business case standpoint; what the impact is of lack of access; what the current state of accessibility of the Web is; and how much effort is needed to have a positive impact on the Web.

The Web is currently relatively inaccessible to users with visual disabilities due to the extensive amount of graphical content, and rapidly becoming inaccessible to users with hearing disabilities as more audio content is added to the Web.  Navigation often poses a problem for users with physical and cognitive disabilities as well.

The panel brings together diverse perspectives on Web accessibility: business, government, research and user.  Dr. Steven Lucas, of MatchLogic, Inc., will examine the business case for accessibility from a Web marketing perspective.  Cynthia Waddell, City San Jose, California, USA, will describe her experience in implementing full Web accessibility in government Web sites.  Jutta Treviranus, University of Toronto, Canada, will discuss current and future research issues that need to be addressed in the area of inclusive design.  George Kerscher, with Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic and the DAISY Consortium will discuss how the recent W3C accessibility improvements in HTML 4.0 and CSS2, while motivated by disabled users' requirements, also increase usability for all.

Audience participation will be strongly encouraged.  Panelists will consider questions including: