This week’s readings bring to the forefront something we, or at least I, have not dealt with yet in our web design. This issue is pretty well summed up in the title of Joe Clark’s article, “How do Disabled People Use the Computer?” From the readings, it is pretty clear there are two main components of this. First, and this is the main focus (aside from his diatribe against political correctness) of Joe Clark’s article, is the set of tools and techniques that disable persons use to access the web, and computers in general. Generally caught under the term of “adaptive devices,” these allow disable persons to bypass some of the structural obstacles to computer use and include such hardware and software as screen readers and alternative keyboards and mouse devices.
More importantly for us as CLIO II students, and the main focus of both Jared Smith and Mark Pilgrim’s articles, is the steps we as web designers can take to make our sites more accessible. I have to admit, for someone such as myself, whose code is not quite fully accessible (or at least understandable) to himself, this is a bit intimidating. I’m still trying to figure out the difference between a class and a div, and now they want me to write my webpage for people who look at it completely differently than I do (I’m still working on that skill when it comes to Mac users, let alone disabled people) using devices such as screen readers that I’ve never even been exposed to.
Luckily, people such as Jared and Mark have put together super useful and helpful guides to how to do so in an accessible (ha!) and un-intimidating (well, mostly) how to. Finally, I though Mark’s use of hypothetical disable users was particularly poignent in illustrating why going through these extra-steps is so important, even after I spent eight hours just trying to get the website to look decent to people without any additional obstacles.