What is Web Accessibility?
Web Accessibility refers to designing sites so people with disabilities may use the Web.
Why design accessible web sites?
But accessible web sites are boring!
This is only true if the designer makes the web site boring. It's relatively easy to design visually appealing web sites while still maintaining accessibility. It just takes a little bit of extra effort on the part of the designer.
But it's too expensive... and hard!
There is some truth to that... because, yes, it can be expensive and cumbersome to fix a large, extensive web site that has been up for years and has multiple pages with multiple images. On the other hand, sometimes the only thing really wrong with that huge site is the lack of alt tags - or inefficient usage of alt tags. There may be other things that could be fixed - but they don't always have to be taken care of right away. With sites that haven't been built yet, if the designer considers Web accessibility at the start of the project rather than at the end as a patch-up job, it won't be hard – or expensive.
Isn't Web accessibility just for people who are blind and use screen readers?
No, it's for anyone with any kind of disability; and there are rather a lot of them. It's important to bear in mind that each person will have different needs and methods for how they use a web site. The necessary design methods that make a site accessible for a blind person may not be the same as those that make a site accessible to others. Examples of other disabilities that should be considered include auditory, cognitive, motor and age-related disabilities. Also, users who have low bandwidth or slower Internet connections could also be considered "disabled," as they may not always have full access to some sites.
Let's just put a text-only version up!
And have two versions of a web site – one of which may not get updated as often as the other and looks boring? I don't think so; not when it's just as easy to make an accessible site.