Accessibility Standards

Accessibility is a critical factor for content success. The accessibility of websites for users with impairments is an evolving research area. It is vital for web concept designers to adhere to accessibility standards to ensure the successful dissemination of business information through e-commerce sites. By not adhering to accessibility guidelines, e-commerce businesses are inadvertently excluding a potentially large demographic.

Nielson (2001) indicates “With current Web design practices, users without disabilities experience three times higher usability than users who are blind or have low vision. Usability guidelines can substantially improve the matter by making websites and intranets support task performance for users with disabilities”.

W3C developed guidelines for developing accessible Web content.

Although definitions and perspectives vary for the term “disability” (W3C, 2001, HMSO, 1996), Nielsen (2000) interprets the term disability as “any difficulty experienced in interacting with a computer system.” The interpretation matches very well with the scope of this research, which focuses on the accessibility of e-commerce websites. “Disability” could be defined as ‘any difficulty experienced in interacting with an e-commerce website during the course of pre-purchase, consumption, and post-consumption stages of an e-commerce business.’