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WAI: Strategies, guidelines, resources to make the Web accessible to people with disabilities

[DRAFT] Web Content Accessibility and Mobile Web:
Making a Web Site Accessible Both for People with Disabilities and for Mobile Devices

The latest version of this document is at www.w3.org/WAI/mobile

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With global mobile phone use at an all time high, there has been a surge of interest in developing Web sites that are accessible from a mobile device. Similarly, making Web sites accessible for people with disabilities is an integral part of high quality Web sites, and in some cases a legal requirement.

Most Mobile Web specialists don't know about design issues for people with disabilities. Likewise, most Web accessibility specialists don't know Mobile Web design best practices.

Web sites can more efficiently meet both goals when developers understand the significant overlap between making a Web site accessible for a mobile device and for people with disabilities. The similarities are introduced below along with benefits of addressing both and resources with technical details of the overlap.

Similar Barriers

Users of mobile devices and people with disabilities experience similar barriers when interacting with Web content. For example, mobile phone users will have a hard time if a Web site's navigation requires the use of a mouse because they typically only have an alphanumeric keypad. Similarly, desktop computer users with a motor disability will have a hard time using a Web site if they can't use a mouse. Additionally, people with disabilities may use a mobile device to access the Web site.

Similar Solutions

The W3C provides guidelines/standards on making accessible Web content and best practices for content for mobile devices.

There is an overlap between MWBP and WCAG. For example, the MWBP best practice "Label all form controls appropriately and explicitly associate labels with form controls" corresponds with the WCAG 1.0 checkpoint "12.4 Associate labels explicitly with their controls."

Doing Both

Following these two guidelines makes your Web content more accessible to everyone regardless of situation, environment, or device. Designing to the guidelines together, instead of separately, can make the process more efficient.

Web sites that already meet WCAG or MWBP are already well on the way to meeting the other.

Understanding the overlap also strengthens the business case for adopting WCAG or MWBP in a web site that already complies with one, or for adopting both together. See also Developing a Web Accessibility Business Case for Your Organization.


The following resources provide a detailed mapping of the overlap between the barriers and solutions for making Web sites accessible to people with disabilities and usable on mobile devices.