I often talk about the fact that we have a legal obligation to make our web sites accessibility. I also promote the financial benefits of making your web site accessible to all. But I have come to believe we also have a morale obligation to improve access to our sites.
At the end of the day I believe making web sites accessible to all is simply the right thing to do. This was really driven home to me last night as I was watching a documentary on Channel 4 called "Picking up the pieces". It followed the experiences of a 24 year old woman who lost her sight due to diabetes.
I have to say that the programme really moved me. Watching this young woman come to terms with her blindness and then learning to overcome it was incredible. Watching her struggling to deal with going out on her own, navigating curbs and roads, being thrown by simple things like an object being moved, was truly heart wrenching at times.
As web designers and site managers we so often moan about the constraints that web site accessibility puts on us. We feel we have to compromise in order to cater for the minority. That designing with accessibility in mind is an "inconvenience". I know I have certainly been guilty of this in the past. Last nights TV documentary made me realise that this is nothing compared to the inconvenience partially sighted people live with on a daily basis. I got so frustrated on her behalf watching her deal with the everyday world that just does not cater for those with disabilities.
On the internet we have a unique opportunity. We can make the web accessible in ways impossible offline. Technology allows us to cater for all whatever their circumstances and as the people that build and run web sites I believe we need to start taking that responsibility seriously.
I am just sorry it has taken me this long to realise it.