What is accessible technology?
Accessible technology is designed so that it can be accessed by all users. This includes electronic documents, websites, software, hardware, video, audio, and other technologies. People who interact with technology are extremely diverse, and have a wide variety of characteristics, including:
- Most individuals who are blind use either audible output or a screen readers to read web content using synthesized speech, or a refreshable Braille device.
- Individuals with learning disabilities such as dyslexia may also use audible output using Text-to-Speech (TTS).
- Individuals with low vision may use screen magnification software that allows them to zoom into a portion of the visual screen.
- Individuals with fine motor impairments may be unable to use a mouse, and instead rely exclusively on keyboard commands, or use assistive technologies such as speech recognition, head pointers, mouth sticks, or eye-gaze tracking systems.
- Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing are unable to access audio content, so video needs to be captioned and audio needs be transcribed.
- Individuals may be using mobile devices including phones, tablets, or other devices, which means they’re using a variety of screen sizes and a variety of gestures or other user interfaces for interacting with their devices and accessing content.
Accessible technology works for all of these users, and others.
Guidelines for Accessibility
WCAG is the official Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. These guidelines have been developed by a group called Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) in W3C. The guidelines are internationally recognized and are used in policy and best practice worldwide.
The World Wide Web Consortium summarizes web accessibility in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG).
- Web content must be perceivable
- Web content must be operable
- Web content must be understandable
- Web content must be robust
Within each of these four areas there is a set of guidelines and each guideline has a set of success criteria. The individual success criteria are most commonly used for conformance requirements. They are divided into three levels: level A, level AA and level AAA. The City is working to conform with level AA (all criteria on level A and level AA).