The Colorado Department of Education

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Frequently Asked Questions about web site accessibility

1. What are alternative browsers?

Alternative browsers include:

  • TTS (text-to-speech) browsers that use synthesized speech to read text on web sites to a user.
  • Text-only browsers that render web sites in a text-only format.
  • Voice-enabled browsers that navigate web sites using speech commands.

2. How are different users of alternative browsers affected?

Different disabilities and/or activities can limit people from gaining access to the Web through traditional means. Without accommodations, users:

  • May not be able to see, hear, or process some types of information easily or at all.
  • May not have or be able to use a keyboard or mouse.
  • May have a text-only screen, a small screen, or a slow Internet connection.
  • May be in a situation where their eyes, ears, or hands are busy or interfered with (e.g., driving to work, working in a loud environment, etc.).

3. What happens when alternative browsers try to read an inaccessible page?

Consider a number of examples:

  • When a text-to-speech browser attempts to read an inaccessible site, the output is garbled with coding elements and unrecognizable gibberish. Instead of reading "Welcome to," the browser may say "Right-square bracket, backslash, backslash, colon, Welcome, left square bracket, right square bracket, hyphen, to ...."
  • In many cases, pages are broken into frames improperly. This situation can cause screen readers to jump around pages in a confusing manner.
  • Pop-up windows without proper client side negotiation can interfere with the reading process, causing text-to-speech engines to read the new page immediately rather than completing the page the users want to read.

4. How many people use assistive technologies?

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines were designed for:

  • People with visual, auditory, motor, and/or learning disabilities
  • 10% of all people online who have a disability, or over 15 million people in the US alone.
  • 10 million Americans who have severe sight limitations.
  • 11 million people with auditory disabilities.
  • Approximately 30 million people with dyslexia in this country.

5. What are the repercussions of having an inaccessible site?

There are many repercussions an organization may face for having an inaccessible site. These include:

  • The possibility of an ADA lawsuit
    • AOL, H&R Block, Intuit, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America have all had legal action brought against their web sites.
  • Loss of procurement from the Federal Government
    • Under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, the government can only procure through accessible mediums.
  • Missed opportunities
    • 10% of the online population uses assistive technologies. If your organization's site is inaccessible, you miss out on many potential users and customers
  • Poor public image
    • Not being accessible to people with disabilities promotes a poor organizational image within the entire community.