Creating Accessible Web Sites | Creating Accessible Digital Multimedia
Creating Accessible Analog & Print Media
While new technologies promise to expand learning and entertainment opportunities, they can also present significant obstacles to people with disabilities. Traditional broadcast and cable television, as well as movies in theaters, offer closed captions and audio descriptions to make program material available to viewers who are hearing- or visually impaired. Newer technologies, however, such as the Internet, Web, DVD, and DTV, may not include accessibility features, thus denying access by users with disabilities.
Accessible technology benefits everyone, not just users with disabilities. Accessible Web sites, for example, enable blind users to access all information using only the keyboard in conjunction with screen-reading software or a talking browser -- but sighted users who prefer not to use a mouse will also benefit from these accessibility features. Deaf users benefit from closed-captioned television or digital multimedia presentations, but so do hearing people who view these presentations in noisy environments or teachers who use the closed captioning as reading practice for young learners.
In schools, accessibility has taken on greater importance. Students with disabilities are more frequently placed in inclusive classrooms, where they learn alongside students who have always been in "mainstream" classrooms. This poses a challenge to teachers and students, because instructional materials may not always be available in forms that are accessible to students with disabilities. Inaccessible materials stigmatize students with disabilities by preventing them from using the same materials as their peers, which can limit their educational opportunities. Educators are finding that accessible design grants a wider range of learners more options and greater flexibility in learning. Presenting educational material in a variety of formats will provide benefits to those with differing learning styles and will allow individuals to learn in their preferred learning style.