Upon launching the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), Tim Berners-Lee, Director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), stated, "Worldwide, there are more than 750 million people with disabilities. As we move towards a highly connected world, it is critical that the Web be usable by anyone, regardless of individual capabilities and disabilities" (Paciello, Introducing, par. 4). Indeed, the Web is a popular and rapidly growing source of news, commerce, and information. Then-President Bill Clinton, expressing his support for the WAI, stated, "Given the explosive growth in the use of the World Wide Web for publishing, electronic commerce, lifelong learning and the delivery of government services, it is vital that the Web be accessible to everyone" (Paciello, Introducing, par. 8).
Designing a Web site that is usable for people with disabilities provides more usable websites for all users. For example, using readable fonts for large volumes of text not only aids users who have difficulty seeing, it also provides a more comfortable reading experience for all users. Providing Web pages and Web sites that accommodate the widest possible range of user abilities is in accordance with the concept of Universal Design. By the principles of Universal Design, a Web site should include alternatives that make it accessible to people of varied abilities, disabilities, and backgrounds.
People with disabilities are part of a continuum of user ability levels rather than being a set apart. Web sites need to be flexible in their design to enable access by people of all abilities and skill levels. It's not only good design for people with disabilities, it's a principle of good design that will benefit all users (CAST). (Excerpt from: "JMU Web Accessibility Handbook")
This manual is designed for people who have some experience in coding and designing Web sites. It is not an instruction manual for coding, but it does offer examples of how to code certain accessible features into your Web site. It is not an instruction book on Web site design, but it does offer a variety of "do's" and "don'ts" regarding aspects of Web site design that will help you design an accessible Web site.
This manual's purpose is to help JMU Web site designers serve 100 percent of the university's population and provide a comfortable and useful experience for anyone seeking information from a JMU website. It covers all aspects of Web design, from visual presentation to complex website functions. It is designed to be understandable and easy to use, with examples of coding for accessible design and color images to illustrate good and poor design choices. Use the guidelines in this manual to produce JMU websites and Web pages that are fully accessible to all users. Let no one who accesses your website be turned away. (Excerpt from "JMU Web Accessibility Handbook")
Many thanks to Jon Kilner ('03), Technical & Scientific Communication Graduate Program, for his passion and thoroughness in creating this wonderful resource.
Visit the following web site to download the Adobe Reader: http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html