July 08, 2013

HTML5 is Making the Internet More Accessible than Ever

The discourse surrounding HTML5 of late seems to focus on the language’s limitations, especially since the W3C (NewsAlert) (World Wide Web Consortium) declared the HTML5 definition complete last December. Whatever shortcomings HTML5 may or may not have in terms of mobile app development aside, the language’s impact on Web development is significant — especially in terms of making the Web more interactive.

For example, WebRTC has caught a lot of attention for bringing complete unified communication and collaboration capabilities to the Web browser, eschewing native applications and external plug-ins for HTML5 and JavaScript.

According to Telecom Reseller (NewsAlert), HTML5 also has a lot to offer in terms of Web accessibility as well. In fact, this has become something of a hot topic, due in part to the W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative. Indeed, WAI-ARIA (Web Accessibility Initiative – Accessible Rich Internet Applications) is a suite of accessible rich Internet applications designed by the W3C to make Web content and applications more accessible to people with disabilities.

Specifically, WAI-ARIA helps with dynamic content and user interface controls while tackling accessibility issues through defining how functionality can be given to assistive technologies. Examples of assistive technology include vocalizers and braille screens for those with visual impairment or blindness.

The need for integration between assistive technology and the Web is even more pressing than you might assume, as attendant console applications — used by operators to handle large quantities of phone calls — are often run by visually impaired operators. These consoles are typically used in larger enterprises and public administration organizations.

Porting attendant console applications into Web technologies would not only make the benefits of WAI-ARIA more accessible, it would allow for greater readiness with collaboration protocols like WebRTC, clientless deployment, ubiquitous access and easy migration to SaaS (News Alert). Furthermore, Adaptive Cascading Style Sheets offer a simple way to build apps that can be manipulated in terms of colors, font size and contrast.

This is a relatively specific scenario, but it proves that HTML5 has a lot to offer in terms of building accessible Web-based collaboration apps. If developers embrace this, the Web will become more accessible than ever.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey


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