In an effort to show corporations how to make Web sites accessible to people with disabilities, K2 Design, New York, has created a new site for the Albertson, New York-based National Business and Disability Council that launches this week. The site, which is located at www.business-disability.com, uses technology from Microsoft, such as style sheets that can adjust to meet the needs of users.
While developing a site for the organization, which provides information on disabilities and a job database to Fortune 500 companies, K2 was mindful of its additional purpose to create an accessible site while simultaneously retaining the integrity of its design and message.
Arlo Corwin, interactive producer at K2, said that before Windows became the prevalent operating system, and most online content was text-based, navigation was easier for disabled people. When sites became organized graphically, “It threw everyone for a loop,” he said. Many of the 18,000 devices used by disabled people to navigate sites are unable to navigate those that are graphics-rich. Therefore, some companies compensate by creating text-only sites for them. “From a politically-correct, person-with-disabilities perspective, you’re not giving them the same experience,” he said.
Francine Tishman, executive director of the NBDC, said the group’s site will provide information and help its members communicate, while at the same time show how an accessible Web site can still be attractive. “We want to have a Web site that is fully accessible so we can demonstrate to corporations that information and services should be accessible to everyone,” Tishman said. “We hope that it’s a model they choose to follow.”
K2 worked with Microsoft Consulting Services, the W3 Consortium, which develops Internet protocols, and other groups to ensure the site is accessible and uses the most recent technology.
“The idea is to help their customer organizations learn how to adapt and help the disabled,” said Frank Murphy, practice manager for Microsoft Consulting Services, New York.
Michael Levy, principal consultant with Microsoft Consulting Services, said the site uses recent applications that can be scaled down and used with older browsers.