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Introduction to WebA11y

Universal access has greater than expected benefits

We often think of web accessibility as the special encoding required for people who are blind or deaf to best understand the content and functionality of our websites. This is true to an extent, but this also misses the fact that a well-constructed website benefits all web users on multiple levels. For example, let's look at closed captioning for web video...
  • For a person living with hearing loss, reading closed captions makes understanding the spoken words and audible content easy.
  • Similarly, a person who has difficulty differentiating spoken words from background noise can also benefit from the clarity of a written dialog.
  • People who watch overseas television also like captions as they can better understand accents.
  • Captions help when the sound quality of the video itself suffers — such as video created with non-professional equipment or being streamed over slower cell networks.
In all these instances captioning walks in for the win and this is just one example of how using assistive technologies can benefit everyone.

Fear not, the basics are easy

Web accessibility has a set of standards called the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1). Here there are dozens of specifications ranging from color contrast to properly encoded interface elements such as dropdown menus. While advanced web accessibility may require development experience, making our basic content accessible can be accomplished by us all.

What we'll learn

In part one, we'll review the principles of universal access, how content is perceived with assistive technologies, and introduce a simple testing tool.
Part two goes into the details of structuring your HTML so your web content is readily understood using assistive technology.
Finally, our appendices include notes on making accessible documents in non-HTML formats and links for more information.


What's with the name? A11y is a numeronym for accessibility — 11 letters between the A and Y. It also looks like ally which means we support providing full access of the web for everyone.