1-2 Removing Barriers

Despite the general goodwill of technology designers, some sophisticated devices that have been developed to enhance communication have inadvertently become barriers for people with disabilities. For example, Web sites with unexplained graphics can be incomprehensible to blind people. Small print intended to reduce the size of documents is hard to read for people with limited vision. Complex phones intended to simplify a job do not always support TTY (teletypewriter) access for deaf people and may represent a barrier for someone with dexterity or cognitive problems. Compression techniques that enable video to travel through the Internet can disrupt the synchronization needed for captioning for people who are hearing impaired.

Section 508 gives guidance to create accessibility by providing both clear statements of the challenges posed by different types or classes of technology and the approaches needed for universal access. Some of the guidance is clear and easy to accomplish. Some of the approaches require deep awareness of disability issues and a sophisticated understanding of both traditional technology and assistive device technology. And, in some instances, best practices that enable full access require a fresh approach to established techniques.