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proving the myth is wrong

With Internet growing at an incredible rate and the evolution of technology, many more users are gaining access to the Internet. Essentially the information and services are meant to be available to everyone, but with the sites and services that are available many are made in such a way that only the “norm” are able to use the information or service.

There are organisations on the Internet that are now focusing on developing “Web standards” to allow all technology to use the internet and all people to use it as well.
Namely W3 and Bobby are two of the main names that are influencing the web generation into making fully accessible sites.

What does this mean?
Nowadays mobile phones, smart phones, personal digital assistants, interactive television systems, voice response systems, kiosks and even certain domestic appliances can all access the Web. With all these technologies, using the internet has become a part of life. Many new users are using the internet to do things they never could before.

The web makes a difference to the life of an able bodied person in so far as they choose to use the facilities or not. An able bodied person can use the web to correspond, seek information and, if they wish, buy and sell goods and services.

For a disabled person however, the internet can make a significant difference to their life. In some instances, the internet enables many people with differing degrees of disability to enrich their lives to a degree that no amount of extra home help could possibly achieve. For instance, software enables blind and partially sighted people to listen to what is written on a web site. People with poor sight can change the size of the font on a page (just as any able bodied person can). If you are colour blind, you can, to a certain extent, alter the colour scheme on a web site.

If you are blind, you no longer have to telephone the store to book an appointment to go shopping. Instead of taking a day out to do the weekly shop, you can sit down in front of a screen and order goods online and have them delivered at some stage in the future. Gone can be the days where shopping for disabled people is an excruciating experience where, for instance, the supermarket provides a member of staff who is a vegetarian to pick goods for a meat eater.

For the first time, many blind people can take advantage of the up-to-the-minute news and sports results that are now available on-line. In addition, the inclusion of railway and bus timetables in web sites enable blind and partially sighted people to be more confident when they travel, and to make ticket reservations independently and easily.

However with all these facilities open to everyone online there is a problem. Blind and partially sighted people are being excluded from one of the most important technological breakthroughs of recent years. The ability to use the World Wide Web to meet personal, education, information and shopping needs is being denied to blind and partially sighted people by a lack of inclusive design and a general ignorance by businesses and webmasters of the simple steps that can make websites accessible for all.

The most common cause of inaccessibility was poor or inappropriate coding of HyperText Mark up Language (HTML), the programming language of the web. Careless coding included: image files that were not supported by alternative text, upon which access technology is reliant to convert the image into something meaningful to blind Net users.

There are many myths about making sites accessible and one of the main doubts about making sites accessible is that it will be expensive and take too long to make. In fact it the way the sites are made is great for search engine results and enhances the usability of the site.

I want to prove that the myth is wrong. I want to prove that making sites to be accessible is good for everyone and that it can actually be cost effective. I want to look into how it influences usability and why it can increase the amount of visitors to the site.

There are many areas that I will focus on such as Human Computer Interaction (HCI), web standards, usability of web sites, web ethics and I will show that all these are actually linked together.