Enabling a Web site to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities is a concern for all businesses. People with disabilities are a significant portion of the population, and legal ramifications exist for Web sites that discriminate by not providing adequate and universal access to their resources. In this chapter, we explore the Web Accessibility Initiative, its guidelines, various laws regarding businesses and their availability to people with disabil-ities and how some companies have developed systems, products and services to meet the needs of this demographic.
In 1999, the National Federation for the Blind (NFB) filed a lawsuit against AOL for not supplying access to its services for people with visual disabilities. The Americans with Dis-abilities Act (ADA) and many other efforts address Web accessibility laws (Fig. 34.1).
WeMedia.com™ (Fig. 34.2) is a Web site dedicated to providing news, information, products and services for the millions of people with disabilities, their families, friends and caregivers. There are 54 million Americans with disabilities, representing an estimated $1 trillion in purchasing power. We Media also provides online educational opportunities for people with disabilities.
The Internet enables individuals with disabilities to work in a vast array of new fields. Technologies such as voice activation, visual enhancers and auditory aids, afford more employment opportunities. People with visual impairments may use computer monitors with enlarged text, while people with physical impairments may use head pointers with on-screen keyboards.
Federal regulations, similar to the disability ramp mandate, will be applied to the Internet to accommodate the needs of people with hearing, vision and speech impairments. In the following sections, we explore a variety of products and services that provide Internet access for people with disabilities.
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