What is web accessibility and why does it matter? Both of these are two very good questions, the answers can provide us with a greater understanding of an important practice that is affecting how we publish web content.

Web accessibility is a concept which guarantees ease of access to web content for individuals with varied disabilities.

Whether you have a particular disability or know someone who does, web accessibility is relevant to all because it is changing the way documents are accessed on each and every online site and platform. Web accessibility is facilitating a greater ease of use and simplicity for each and every user that accesses web content in some way.

In fact, this concept is so important that we are witnessing changes in legislation to encourage or mandate accessibility of electronic information. This can be seen when we take a look at the related legislation that has been based in a number of countries. An excellent example are the mandatory Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.0 that have been mandated for all government sites in 2010. Similarly, in 2008, the Australian government made amendments to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to emphasize that it is a human right to access information, communications, and services, including the internet.

We can witness the web accessibility initiative having played a large role in a number of legislative discussions that have taken place in several of the states of the U.S. And in even another example, we can study the Canadian Human Rights Act of 1977 and an associated document - the Government of Canada Internet Guide (in particular the section pertaining to Universal Accessibility). There is no question that for each of these governing bodies and several others, for that matter, that web accessibility is an essential and significant topic that has called for much attention throughout the last several generations.

The importance of creating online material that can be understood, utilized, and accessed by each and every individual, regardless of whether or not they suffer from a disability of some kind or not, is essential. Regardless of the type of document - whether it be Microsoft word, Adobe, InDesign, or HTML format, there is a large emphasis that should be placed on making sure the document (in every form and in every circumstance), is readable by disabled individuals.

The majority of individuals have caught onto this concept, understanding that the utilization of specific document formats can truly make all the difference in accessibility. Today there are a number of tools available to assist authors with building their information to be easily understood and accessed by individuals with disabilities, all while complying with the helpful legislations that have been passed.