Statement on Accessibility

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Social Ink prides itself on creating website with a view toward accessibility;  in lay terms, how people with disabilities view the web, a primarily visually-based interface.

The W3, the body that creates and governs the languages that your web browser reads, defines accessibility as:

Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can use the Web. More specifically, Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web, and that they can contribute to the Web. Web accessibility also benefits others, including older people with changing abilities due to aging.

Web accessibility encompasses all disabilities that affect access to the Web, including visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, and neurological disabilities. The document “How People with Disabilities Use the Web” describes how different disabilities affect Web use and includes scenarios of people with disabilities using the Web.

Millions of people have disabilities that affect their use of the Web. Currently most Web sites and Web software have accessibility barriers that make it difficult or impossible for many people with disabilities to use the Web. As more accessible Web sites and software become available, people with disabilities are able to use and contribute to the Web more effectively.

Web accessibility also benefits people without disabilities. For example, a key principle of Web accessibility is designing Web sites and software that are flexible to meet different user needs, preferences, and situations. This flexibility also benefits people without disabilities in certain situations, such as people using a slow Internet connection, people with “temporary disabilities” such as a broken arm, and people with changing abilities due to aging. The document “Developing a Web Accessibility Business Case for Your Organization” describes many different benefits of Web accessibility, including benefits for organizations.

Social Ink takes the W3’s recommendations for accessibility very seriously for many reasons.  Primarily, we find that accessibility works for users with disability and without.  That is, developing for browsers with disabilities allows us to develop enduring code that works well across various platforms (from mobile Android and iPhone to Unix) and audiences, including older users and/or users in countries without the never ending stream of high-ending computers we rely on so frequently in the United States.

With an eye toward designing for accessibility, moreover, we allow web indexers like Google and Bing to find your site cleanly by making text prominent and in hierarchical semantic layout (headers and paragraphs) rather than putting your whole site in graphics-based Flash.  We urge the use of web-safe fonts rather than that beautiful new font you’ve seen in your favorite magazine, for example, because we recognize the world wide web as a genre separate from print, requiring understanding different technologies, among them the software and hardware that users with disabilities employ.

We also follow the Americans for Disability Act (ADA) Section 508, or Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards, guidelines.   While legally, section 508 applies to federal websites (and certain state and local organs) we find that the recommendations, encouraging maximum access to people with the widest possible divergence of technology, should be implemented outside goverment as much as possible.  These guidelines make the world wide web better for everybody and ensure a robust future for open access.

Our lead developer, Yoni Reinberg, even worked with the Trace Research Center at the University of Wisconsin working on web accessibility for vision-impaired users, such as the translation of maps to document readers.  He even helped coauthor a document that was later delivered to the W3.  Our institutional links aren’t just historical; many of our nonprofit clients rely on government granting that requires accessibility to be a priority in the development process.  Social Ink keeps up on changing standards and you can rest assured that we’ll be implementing them in all websites we deliver to you.

Our commitment to accessibility, in short, takes all real-world situations into account and ensures we create the best functioning site for all potential users.  We’re happy to discuss this further at our contact page if you have any questions!

Social Ink has been in NYC since 2007!