Developing Online Community Accessibility Guidelines for Persons With Disabilities and Older Adults
As online communities have become an important means of social interaction and community participation, ensuring their universal accessibility is essential for social inclusion. Although accessibility standards have been developed to make information-oriented Web sites more inclusive to users with disabilities and older adults, similar efforts have not been devoted to accessibility standards tailored specifically for online communities that are primarily communication oriented. Existing guidelines for Web site accessibility can be used as the starting point in designing accessible online communities for persons with disabilities and older adults, and public policy needs to play a significant role in ensuring the accessibility of the Web 2.0 environment. To ensure full accessibility of the online environment, however, it is necessary to move beyond guidelines that focus on one-way transfer of information and to develop guidelines for multidirectional communication. This article explores the social, policy, and developmental issues of the accessibility of online communities.