A Web Accessibility Primer: Usability for Everyone
Part I - Introduction
When did you last access the internet? What did you use it for? Imagine, now, going to those
same web sites and trying to use them if you were blind, deaf, had cognitive trouble dealing with
large amounts of content, or couldn’t use your arms. At Cornell, we have about 800 students,
plus many staff and faculty, with disabilities. Also, of course, many of our website visitors from
outside the University, whether prospective faculty or students, or alumni, or the general public,
have disabilities that affect their web use.
In many ways, the internet is one of the best things that ever happened to people with disabilities.
For example, blind people can now access newspapers with screen readers that read the text
aloud. They don't have to wait for expensive audio tapes or costly, and bulky, Braille printouts.
On the other hand, when not designed accessibly, the web creates all kinds of barriers to people
with disabilities. What if a newspaper webpage is not screen-reader
accessible? What if a video clip has no captions for deaf people? What if a
page is only useable with a mouse, and you don’t have use of your arms or
With support from this workbook, this workshop should help you:
Better understand the barriers and frustrations people with disabilities face with
Know what web accessibility means.
Make the websites and site content you are responsible for more accessible to both
people with disabilities, and users generally.
This workshop does not provide full technical training in designing accessible web content.
Instead, it introduces you to key concepts and strategies. In some cases, this workbook will tell
you all you need to know to make your sites accessible. In other cases, when you’ll need
particular technical skills or procedures, it refers you to outside resources that you can use on
your own as you need them.
While this workbook is designed to be used in a face-to-face workshop, you could also use it on
your own as a primer on creating and maintaining accessible websites.