March 4, 2019
Websites For All
Lionel C. Bethancourt and Alexandra Andrews
The World Wide Web embodies the egalitarian ideal. This ideal does not discriminate on the basis of color, age, sex, religion, education or disability. No matter how tiny a town or how isolated an area, the Internet is there. The smallest library can connect to the rest of the world.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to websites. [1,2,3] A digital divide occurs when websites deny access, isolate and deprive users who live in rural areas, [4,5] have older computers, are sick, visually impaired, with temporary or permanent physical limitations such as - broken bones, cancer, lymphedema, cataracts, strokes, and palsy. Websites are being sued, because they are not accessible.  This divide is caused by competing goals between programmer and user. The public (user) wants basic information. The web designer desires to dazzle with colored schemes, flashing banners, fluttering butterflies, many and/or large pictures, audio clips, streaming video, sliding screens, and tiny text. A measurable segment of the population is unable to access information for their daily needs. Lawsuits are the result.
- These are three general categories of web users.
- 1. The urban environment user.
- These users have access to fast broadband internet connections.
- They have the latest and greatest in computer equipment.
- Usually dominated by younger users under 30.
2. The profoundly disabled user.
- The disabilities of these users include blindness and compromised physical movement. They need special adaptive equipment for computer use and Internet access.
3. The third and largest group.
- The rural area population.
- Those without the latest and greatest in computer technology. (Alexandra) I see many Windows NT users in my log files.
- This group includes those with barriers such as: not eagle-eyed, elderly, cataracts, broken bones, illness, cancer, lymphedema, strokes, palsy, etc.
- Those with financial limitations.
- Those unable or unwilling to buy the latest and greatest computer equipment.
- Those with a slow internet connection.
- From On Being a Hospital Webmaster by Lionel C. Bethancourt 
As a Webmaster myself (I'm responsible for the Hospital do Cancer - AC Camargo's website at Sao Paulo, Brazil),  I've worked towards one single goal at a time at my hospital's site... We had a rough time getting some of these projects done. It was not all that easy. Some expected more fireworks, Java and videos, and De Millean theatricals from the start, lured by some web pages they've seen. Here's where cultural diversity stepped in. We had to think about what our country needed, first.
- Basic, simple cancer information.
- Mistakes to avoid
- - Programmers and web designers trying to write informational websites with the special effects of music videos. They have not considered that there are hundreds of different browsers, types of devices, sizes of monitors, speed of access and so on.
- Another error is the static paper model. Graphic designers may try to apply the principles of flat paper to a website. A web page is not a static piece of paper!
- Issues To Consider
- A thoughtfully designed website should be accessible to all. Fonts that can be enlarged to suit the viewer. A way to print the information. There are extra bits of code called alt tags that can be used for the blind user who is using a screen reader, or any user who does not want to load graphics. (Don't forget, these with slow connection access to a website.) For example on http://www.cancerlynx.com the HTML code reads like this IMG SRC="LYNX.GIF" ALT="lynx picture". You would know that the LYNX.gif is a lynx picture, or this example, font color="green" Here you know the color of the lettering is green.
- Colors provide an artistic effect, but are not helpful on an informational site. There are only 216 safe colors for the Web. This limited palette allows for little shading of colors. Graphics designers, in their attempts to become artistic, often create color combinations that are unworkable, in that they do not translate well. Depending on the machine and monitor, the colors compound the problems with lettering, or otherwise make the site illegible. What looks good on one PC will not necessarily work with a MAC, other brands of PC's, Linux/UNIX machines, laptops, flat screen monitors, cell phones, tablets, etc.
- Can your font text be enlarged without added programs? Is there contrast between the lettering and the background? Question - Is pale gray tiny text on a white background readable? How lettering is visible depends upon the browser that you are using.
A browser is the program that allows you to view a website. There are many kinds of browsers just as there are also many brands of monitors. Websites look very different depending on the browser that you are using - AOL, Web TV, Explorer, Edge, Mozilla, Opera, to name a few. Let us not forget Lynx which is a fast text only browser.
Some choose to create a picture of the text. A picture of the text saves the programmer time, keeps the site tidy and inflates the number of hits. On the downside, with many browsers, the text pictures are unreadable. Picture text usually has a fuzzy quality, like the middle of a photocopying job. Without an alt description tag, the text picture is unreadable for screen readers. Is there an alternate HTML or text version of PDFs used? Consider the senior citizen who needs crucial information, and is unable to read the text? Think of the myopic reader who, even with eyeglasses, cannot read the tiny text? Holding a magnifying glass to a computer screen is awkward.
- Moving Pictures, Clips and Videos
- Moving pictures may cause users to become nauseous with motion sickness. Is the purpose of your website to have users hugging their toilets, because of your bouncing bunny rabbits? Do you want to see flashing lights, fluttering butterflies, waving flags, scrolling news headlines, in a never-ending loop? Fine - They require tremendous memory resources, take forever to download with a modem, and many older computers will not support these flashing moving pictures. The result – the potential website user is frustrated and denied information.
- Internet Connections
- Was the website designed using a very high-speed internet connection. Non broadband connections - modems, dial-up, ISDN, etc. do not have these speeds. Remember the rural access problem. Unfortunately, many designers test-drive their web sites using internal nets. A proper check using a modem and an older computer should always be done.
- Can the web page be printed straight from the net? Is there an HTML or text version of a PDF? Will printing require a special program?
- Elitist Special Sites
- There are designers who insist users must download a program and then reconfigure the computer in order to use a precious website. Denying the user access to information is elitist!
- Ideas for creating accessible websites
- One suggestion to check your website for accessibility is to download and use the Lynx text-web browser.  The Lynx browser is a helpful tool for Search Engine Optimization. If you absolutely need those fancy decorations, large graphics, tiny text, videos, consider creating a secondary accessible to all website.
- Links of interest:
1. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- 2. Section508.gov
- 3. Website Accessibility Under Title II of the ADA
- 4. The Internet Crisis in Rural America
- 5. Why rural areas can't catch a break on speedy broadband
- 6. Beyonce.com violates the Americans With Disabilities Act by denying visually impaired users equal access to products and services offered on the site.
- 7. On Being a Hospital Webmaster
- 8. Hospital do Câncer - AC Camargo
São Paulo - BRASIL
- 9. Lynx is the text web browser