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

[Draft] Sample Article for Developers

Editor's Draft in progress - updated $Date: 2010/09/28 16:57:54 $
Status: This document is an in-progress draft and should not be referenced or quoted under any circumstances. Please send comments to wai-eo-editors@w3.org (a publicly archived list).

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Article requirements and planning page

Main article of 750 words plus side bars

Websites that Work for Older People

So you been asked to develop a website that can be used by older people. This audience is of increasing interest to many businesses, governments, and other organizations as they are an increasing market segment and an important target group. In many countries over 20% of the population will be over 65 years by 2020 - Japan are forecast to have 30% over 65 years by 2020.

Older people and impairments

In addition to having concerns about security, privacy and confidentaility, many older people are also experiencing changing abilities due to age-related impairments. When creating websites that will be usable by this growing audience, it is vital to address the accessibility needs created by the variety of age-related impairments experienced by many older people. Impairments that can affect how older people use the Web and include declining:

Older people sometimes experience multiple impairments that may individually seem minor, but combined can have a larger impact on computer and web use. They often do not acknowledge that they have disabilities, though up to 50% of people over 65 years have a disability. Older people may also be new to the Web, and have less experience with computers. As a result, many older people may be using sub-optimal ICT systems and browsing strategies.

WCAG meets older peoples' needs

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 addresses the accessibility needs of older people online

During an extensive literature review, WAI identified that the WAI Guidelines address the accessibility needs of older users with age-related impairments. In fact many of the usability needs of older people identified by previous studies are covered by the perceivable, operable, and understandable principles of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 and its associated guidelines and success criteria.

Meeting the requirements of WCAG 2.0 will help ensure that websites are usable by older people, but the application of WCAG 2.0 Techniques can be optimized for sites that might be targeting older people. For instance, several studies have shown that many older people have difficulty with forms and other interactive pages if these are not well designed with appropriate help, error identification, and correction assistance. Many studies also highlighted the presentational aspects of websites, including color, contrast, spacing, links, and text size to be of particular importance to older people.

WAI has prepared a document - "Developing Websites for Older People: Improving Usability Through Accessibility [draft]" - to help designers and developers understand the importance of WCAG 2.0 in meeting the web accessibility of older people. This document also highlights implementation techniques that are particularly relevant for older web users such as those dealing with:

Involving older people provides insights

To more fully understand the the requirements of older people using the Web, it can be useful to involve them, and other people with disabilities, early in web design and development projects. Early involvement will help you understand real-world accessibility issues and implement more effective accessibility solutions. Making websites and web applications more usable for people with a range of disabilities improves general usability for everybody, including people without disabilities. In fact, involving users with disabilities in your development project gives you improved usability for free.

@@ Early involvement of users will help you understand real-world accessibility issues and implement more effective accessibility solutions

WAI has prepared a document - "Involving Users in Web Projects for Better, Easier Accessibility" - to get you started reaping the benefits of involving users, specifically people with disabilities and older people with accessibility needs due to ageing, early and throughout different types of projects. This document covers some of the basics about how to involve users, getting a range of users, and working with users. Of course, involving users needs to be done in conjunction with following the accessibility standards, but is key to making your accessibility efforts more effective and more efficient.

Evaluating your accessibility can also benefit from involving users by helping to check if your website or web application really works for users. WAI has guidance on this also - "Involving Users in Evaluating Web Accessibility".

Creating websites and web applications that work for older people with age-related impairments is easily achieved by addressing their accessibility needs through the implementation of WCAG 2.0, and involving them in the project to better understand how they use the Web. Studies have shown that meeting the needs of older people does not disadvantage other website users, and will help make the site usable by a wider audience.

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@@ point to bad as good example of impelemnting some of the requriements for older people?


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