Eliminating Invisible Barriers
Health Web Site Accessibility
One of the top reasons given for use of the internet is the ability to search for health information. However, much of the planning for web-based health information often fails to consider accessibility issues. If health care organizations and community agencies’ web sites have the latest, most wellresearched information on the health topics of the day, it is useless to those who cannot access it because of invisible technological barriers. Many flashy, high-tech sites were designed only to appeal to the needs of the mainstream population, with no consideration given to how people with disabilities must adapt their use of the web in order to access information. This article addresses issues of access specific to web site development, and will explore barriers to accessibility frequently experienced by web users with disabilities, requirements for ADA compliance, and how people with disabilities use the web. Web site accessibility guidelines, as well as simple evaluation tools, will be discussed. A thorough review of the article will enable even the least tech-savvy of health educators to enhance their skills in planning and evaluating web sites to promote access for people with disabilities.