Accessible != Boring

For some reason a common belief is that an accessible web site has to be “boring” and that it has to contain mostly text and very few images. Anybody who has the slightest clue of what accessibility means and how a web site is made accessible can tell you that this is a myth.

An example from real life: I was showing a client an XHTML + CSS version I made of their home page, and while explaining the benefits of converting to web standards I also mentioned that as an extra bonus, they would get a site that is much more accessible than the current one is.

“I’m not interested in paying extra to make the site accessible.”
“It won’t cost you extra. It comes with the new design.”
“OK, so what would the accessible version of the site look like?”
“It would look like what you’re looking at right here. There is no accessible version.”
“Oh. I thought accessibility meant you had to remove all the graphics and invert the colours or something.”

That’s just one example of how web accessibility is misunderstood. There are many more.

In the article Do Accessible Web Sites Have to be Boring? at WebAIM, Paul Bohman writes about this and mentions several sites that are accessible and still have an exciting visual design. The article’s conclusion is that if an accessible web site is (looks) boring, it’s because the design is boring, not because the site is accessible.

Are accessible Web pages boring? Well, yes, some of them are, but we can’t blame that on the fact that they’re accessible. Maybe it would be more appropriate to ask if Web designers are boring. That’s where the problem lies.

Posted on November 4, 2003 in Accessibility

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