Global Accessibility Awareness Day: Accessible internet for people with disabilities

MOSCOW, ID - Today (Thursday) is Global Accessibility Awareness Day, and it was created to remind people that the worldwide web allows us to access a wealth of information, but for people with certain disabilities, some of that information simply isn't accessible.

Reporter Rachel Dubrovin explains the importance of designing websites with the blind and deaf in mind.

It's easy to take internet access for granted.... after all it's available on almost any computer, or cell phone. But surfing the web can be more difficult for people with certain disabilities."

"Parts of it are accessible, and parts of it aren't," said University of Idaho Student Alana Leonhardy. "And the parts that aren't need to be."

Leonhardy is blind, and she relies on screen reading software in order to use her iPhone and search the web.

(screen reading voice)

"Cats, it's an internet thing" said Leonhardy.

She said some websites, like the National Federation of the Blind's NFB dot-org... are easy to navigate because it's designed with screen readers in mind.

"So everything is labeled, everything has what it is It's a really simple web site," said Leonhardy.

But others are more complicated.

"Website like Facebook will jump you around the page without you moving your cursor, which can be stressful," said Leonhardy.

Leonhardy interns at the Disability Action Center in Moscow, where they just launched a new version of their website that's more accessible than ever.

"All the type fonts and the colors are easily read by someone with low vision," said Disability Action Center Marketing Specialist Vicki Leeper. "All of our videos that are on there are closed captioned for people who are deaf, so we're very proud of our new website."

(screen reader)

"It's reading me the text there," said Leeper.

Leeper said business owners should keep accessibility in mind when creating their web site.

"The website is most anyone's first step in finding a business they want to spend money at, and so if businesses have a website that's not accessible, you're missing out on a huge market," said Leeper. "That's the largest minority group in the US right now."

Leonhardy said she believes internet accessibility will increase as long as more people are aware of the issue.

"It's not something that's in the public awareness that needs to be," said Leonhardy.

The Disability Action Center in Moscow welcomes local website designers to contact them to learn about how to make websites more accessible to people with disabilities. The number for the Moscow office is 208-883-0523.