Getting Two for the Price of One: Accessibility and Usability

Abstract: Kirkpatrick argues that, when you design a web site for accessibility, you also “increase the usability of that site for everyone.” Giving best practices examples of accessible web coding, she shows how these also benefit non-disabled users.

She references the two major standards in web accessibility: the WAI (Web Accessibility Initiative) of the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) and Section 508 accessibility standards for government web sites.


Kirkpatrick gives some very helpful tips on coding for accessibility, although I do want to check with my accessibility expert colleague and see if all of these are still current best practices (as 5 years is a lifetime for HTML coding).

I think that the addition of superb metadata also increases accessibility across the board: in particular, I think there should be standards for web metadata that become as common as “alt” tags are in HTML. Dublin Core is certainly one of the better metadata sets, but I think it needs more input from actual web developers to truly leverage the web. For instance, a key method for increasing the usefulness of a piece of content is the “teaser” or “lead”. This field is distinct from a mere “description” in that it tells you why you would be interested in the content.

Kirkpatrick, Cheryl H. (2003). Getting Two for the Price of One: Accessibility and Usability.  Computers in Libraries, 23(1), 26. Retrieved September 14, 2008 from EBSCOHost-Academic Search Complete.