Intro to Web Accessibility

It is estimated that at least 15% of the world’s population consists of people with disabilities. This  translates to millions who have the same right to information as the rest. The W3C has provided a course on the edX platform to help cater for this often under-served web audience.

Designing for inclusion is one thing, avoiding lawsuits is another. Accessibility, especially as regards access to the Internet, is a much debated topic:

The number of website accessibility lawsuits (i.e. lawsuits alleging that plaintiffs with a disability could not use websites because they were not coded to work with assistive technologies like screen readers, or otherwise accessible to them) filed in federal court under Title III of the ADA exploded in 2018 to at least 2258 – increasing by 177% from 814 such lawsuits in 2017

Ethical projections aside, there could also be potential legal obligations in serving people with disabilities and that means designing from the ground up or amending your website’s existing design to conform to the international standards.

Fear no more! The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (UNESCO IITE) have announced a new online course Introduction to Web Accessibility on the edX platform.

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Scheduled to start on 28 January 2020, this course is designed for technical and non-technical audiences:

  • developers
  • designers
  • content authors
  • project managers
  • people with disabilities
  • others

Albeit about people with disabilities, encompassing a wide range of hearing, learning and cognitive, neurological, physical, speech, and visual disabilities, it can also be used by anyone else who strives to provide a better user experience to an audience, for example of older people or people using mobile devices.This evident throughout the 5-module Syllabus, but especially modules 4 and 5:

Module 1: What is Web Accessibility 

  • Introduces the broad scope of digital accessibility through real stories of people with disabilities
  • Examples of how accessibility impacts the lives of interacting in the digital world

Module 2: People and Digital Technology 

  • Explores how people with different disabilities use various assistive technologies and adaptive strategies
  • Introduces accessibility barriers and accessibility solutions
  • Explores how design decisions impact interactions
  • Explains the essential components of web accessibility

Module 3: Business Case and Benefits 

  • Presents direct and indirect return of investment and the organizational business case
  • Explains the broader benefits for everyone, with or without disability

Module 4: Principles, Standards, and Checks 

  • Covers international accessibility standards from W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)
  • Explains the guiding principles of web accessibility: Percievable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust (POUR)
  • Guides through first steps in checking accessibility and applications

Module 5: Getting Started with Accessibility 

  • Explains approaches for integrating accessibility into your design and development processes
  • Provides tips to get started with accessibility right away

The course is free and designed to last for 4 weeks of about 4-5 hours effort per week, but as it is self-paced, you can complete it in a shorter or longer time frame.

Optionally you can earn a Verified Certificate for $99 USD to demonstrate successful completion of the course which is potentially a job-worthy skill.

Enrollment has already begun on the edX website.

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