Making accessibility accessible
2009-04-07T11:22:09Z (GMT) by
In recent years, the need for adaptive design in information systems has come to the fore. Both industry and academia have begun to respond to these problems. There now exist recognised baseline standards for content accessibility and assistive technologies (ATs) are available on many platforms. Many exemplary research projects have found powerful and sometimes highly adaptive solutions to a range of accessibility problems. However, there are signicant difficulties with the current state of accessibility as a whole. For current ATs to be of most use, there is a responsibility on the user to be aware of their access limitations and implement the most appropriate accessibility solution for these needs- indeed, many accessible design guidelines for ICT developers are predicated on the user having the most appropriate access solution for their needs. However, it cannot be assumed that a user will have the most appropriate access technology, or even be aware that they need one, given the gradual rate of acquisition of an impairment, the dynamic nature of the impact of the impairment, or-more likely-impairments, allied with a lack of awareness of available technical solutions. Other issues include: content and software developers seeing accessibility as a niche and, therefore, prohibitively expensive to implement given the expected gain in market share. Also, most research projects- though providing technically adept solutions to these problems- may not be possible for developers to use due to the wide variety of technical requirements of these disparate solutions. In this paper, we discuss these problems in the context of current literature and make high-level proposals as to how these problems may be addressed.