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Accessible and Usable Websites

I remember the days when I started with web design. While specifications and proposed standards were drafted, many designers and developers were lazy in making websites accessible in many browsers, including myself.

The Internet has come a long way since, especially now that governments are making services and information available. I was given my awakening when studying User Centred Design and HCI concepts, realising that a lot of people are missing out. That is when I began utilising my design and marketing skills to provide consultancy to companies that produce web services/applications for the Local Authorities in the UK.

My role with my current company is primarily consultancy to ensure that marketing and the online products are usable/accessible, but have been involved in development to ensure that the guidelines are implemented. I was astonished that they never considered making their software usable/accessible until I came along.

There must be more companies and local authorities out there who are not aware of usability. They must really learn that our friends who have certain impairments (sight, motor, etc) are missing out on the special services.

Here's a scenario:
Someone may report an abandoned vehicle on their street. Now this person maybe lazy and does not want to go to the authorities physically, due to the long queues, including phone calls. Making the service to report this on the Internet saves them a bit of time. By not being usable the website forces a partially blind person to try to visit the offices or struggle on the phone to report this.

This does not make a pretty picture. Hence, I produced a paper to demonstrate the importance of usability and accessibility to make the companies, particularly the one I am working with, aware of the need to cater for others. So far this paper was well received and enlightened the company to improve their on line products.

If you are interested in reading the paper, please follow this link.


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