Accessibility for Web Applications

Official Content

Web Accessibility refers to a practice where websites are correctly designed and developed so that all users have equal access to its contents and the functionality it offers. In that sense, the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) is an effort to improve the accessibility of the World Wide Web for people with disabilities. 

To meet this inclusive practice, websites should be accessible to everyone regardless of their hardware (or software), location (language and culture), or their abilities.
Users living with a disability use assistive technologies such as screen readers, screen magnification, or speech recognition. 
For this reason, the software developer has to keep all these in mind if he wants the website to be accessible to all users. It needs to be interpreted by assistive technologies, and this requires fulfilling a variety of specifications and recommendations.

As an example, images should always include equivalent alternative text because this helps blind users using screen reading software. If alternative text isn't provided for images, the image information is inaccessible to people who is blind and use a screen reader (which effectively reads the alternative text for the visual image).
People who are used to turning off images on their mobile phone to lower bandwidth charges are also included in the benefits given by the accessibility development practice.

At present, the European Union has accessibility policies in place. In Uruguay, among others, AGESIC has published the Web Accessibility paper based on the WCAG.

What is included in the accessibility development practice

To be accessible, a web application has to meet several requirements.

GeneXus X Evolution 3 and GeneXus 15 enable developers to develop an application with these characteristics. In addition, the generated applications comply with HTML5 and CSS3, which are the basis for an accessible application. 

A significant part of the responsibility for developing accessible applications belongs to GeneXus users. The developer has to program the application following the corresponding accessibility guidelines. 

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0), are based on four principles: perceivable, operable, understandable and robust. 

In sum, a good accessibility development practice should comprise:

The generated applications should be validated using the Total Validator tool that is an HTML, CSS validator, and an accessibility validator.

Following these guidelines will make content accessible to a wider range of people with disabilities and more usable to users in general. See the guidelines for GeneXus users focused on each principle: Perceivable content, Operable, Understandable and Robust.

In order to meet the needs of different groups and different situations, three levels of conformance are defined: A (lowest), AA, and AAA (highest). The level is defined in the WCAG 2.0. The goal is to conform to at least level AA.

 

In conclusion, many accessibility features are easily implemented if they are planned from the beginning of the website development. The GeneXus user should consider following the guidelines and use validator tools such as Total Validator in the generated applications to detect possible issues, so as to fix them early and continue the cycle.

Interesting links

Tips on Developing for Web Accessibility
Tips on Designing for Web Accessibility

 

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