This is a subject I feel strongly about. A sense of morality is all that I think should be required to find the motivation to make accessible websites, the legal argument means little to me.
I his article Vlad mentions specific parts of the The Universal Declaration of Human Rights which I will expand upon, but let’s start with Articles 1, 2 and 6:
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.
From this we see that human rights respect the dignity of the individual and have no limits or distinctions, and apply to everyone regardless of their status.
Next, let’s look at the three points mentioned in Vlad’s article,
the right to choose where we work, the right to access education, and the right to participate in culture.
- Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
- Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
- Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
- Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
I think that is safe to say that an accessible web is necessary to meet all of these goals in 21st century Britain, and much of the rest of the world. Article 27 elegantly does away with the argument that only commercial sites are required to be accessible.
Now, I suspect I’m starting sound rather militant about web accessibility which may seem at odds with some of the points I made in my post about Web accessibility myths, particularly
Content that isn’t 100% accessible shouldn’t be published.I strongly believe that all content on the web should be accessible to all who want to access it, but I’m also a pragmatic sort of person who thinks that one of the strengths of the web, and reasons for its success, is that it is an easy platform to publish to.
I would not want to discourage a single person from publishing online, or requiring extensive knowledge of the arcane discipline of web accessibility before they do, but at the same time it is imperative that those of us who call ourselves web developers or web designers as well as the suppliers of content authoring tools do our utmost to educate others and develop responsibly.
It isn’t just the law, it is far more important than that. It is a moral obligation.