Unless it personally affects you or someone you care about, there’s a good chance you don’t think too much about the word “accessibility.” And even if you do, you might think it’s limited to elevators, wheelchair ramps, or braille writing on signs. But the web has become the primary way people access services and information, and it’s critical we apply the same standards of accessibility to technology and websites, especially those like Nashville.gov.
Web accessibility affects more people than you might think. 19 million Americans have some difficulty lifting or grasping objects. 15 million have some form of mental impairment. A combined 16 million people in this country have a vision or hearing impairment. Each of these disabilities or impairments have some degree of impact on how people use technology.
Some of these impacts are obvious — if you can’t see words on a web page, you can’t read them. That’s why visually impaired people usually rely on software called a screen reader to audibly speak text on a page and describe visual elements to them. Other impairments aren’t so clear. People with poor hand strength or limited motor control can have difficulty using a mouse or keyboard, for instance.
Dealing with these issues can be difficult for those living with disabilities, but they an even greater challenge if a website is not built with accessibility in mind. Because the services Metro provides are so important, and because we believe everyone deserves easy access to them, Nashville.gov adheres to strict standards of accessibility of all kinds, and the latest version was built from the ground up with this in mind.
We believe making our website inclusive is the right thing to do, but these accessibility standards also have benefits for the majority of our users, those who don’t suffer from a disability or impairment. Here are a few examples:
- Building a website with visually impaired folks in mind helps sighted users by providing image tooltips and making it possible to browse our website without the need for images when bandwidth or security issues would require text-only browsing.
- Proper use of color and contrast on a web page helps users that have color blindness, but they also help for everyone reading in low-light situations or while sitting further away from a screen.
- Closed captions are key for hearing impaired people, but also provide a way of absorbing information from a video while in a loud environment or during a time when you can’t turn your device’s audio on. These captions can also be a great learning tool for non-native speakers.
- Accessible navigation options help those who can’t easily use a mouse or keyboard, but they can also make navigating around a page or site a breeze for kids, those inexperienced with technology, and mobile web users.
If you rely on accessibility to browse the web, or even if you don’t, we want to hear what you think about the accessibility features of Nashville.gov. Please spend some time browsing the Preview site and then take our very quick Nashville.gov Preview Feedback Survey to tell us what you think.