On the train to Geelong, a cheery young man wobbles in the aisle, and then sits opposite.
He touches me on the knee. "Hello!" he says, and then says something indistinctly. Seeing I don't understand, he smiles, and brings out a keyboard with a slim screen facing me. He types, "What is your name?" With smiles, typing and talking, we get a conversation going.
His name is Tom, and he suffers from cerebral palsy. He explains that his brain knows what he wants to do, but the message gets scrambled on the way to his body. He introduces himself to other passengers in our cluster of seats and gives us a copy of the book he has written about his life. Then he asks us if we would like to buy a copy. We are slightly taken aback, but we buy the book.
Meeting Tom motivates us to ensure that accessibility is built-in to our websites from day one, not as an after-thought. Like so many people with a disability, Tom isn't looking for sympathy - he just wants a shot at goal, and he's giving it everything he has.
If you do see Tom on the train, buy his book. It's a good read.
Accessibility means offering people the broadest possible access to your content.
Designing to accommodate people with colour deficits or using voicing browsers.
Making sure that there are alternatives for audio and video sound-tracks.
It requires dexterity to use a computer mouse, or to open a dropdown list and select an item from it. Your site needs to be usable without a mouse, eg by using keyboard controls.
Good design is inclusive of people who can afford neither the latest computers, nor the expense of broadband access.
Many rural areas still experience slow download speeds. Everyone benefits from a site that downloads quickly.