When SAIF published its Standards for Disability Information and Advice Provision in Scotland in 1999, the internet merited a few brief mentions as a possible method of delivering information and advice. The technological revolution that is the World Wide Web was receiving huge amounts of publicity but at that time it was making very little impact on the everyday lives of disabled people throughout Scotland.
Three years later, when Making Websites Accessible was first written, it was unusual to come across an information and advice agency that was not planning, building or working hard to maintain a website in order to deliver some or all of its services. It was also very unusual to meet someone who had attempted to set up a website and found the process easy or straightforward. In addition, there were many initiatives throughout Scotland that were making access to the web more widespread. Today, in 2006, it is extremely unusual for agencies not to have a website. However, we still need to emphasise how important it is that websites and other forms of e-communication are accessible.
Admittedly, there is a wealth of information on the web and elsewhere about setting up a website and about accessibility. But where do you start and who do you believe? This guide is intended to do three things: firstly, to explain in simple, straightforward language what is involved in setting up a website; secondly, to provide guidance on how to make sure that accessibility is considered and addressed at every stage of the process; and thirdly, to introduce the concept of accessibility in all forms of e-communication, from emails and beyond.
Electronic communication has huge potential to make information readily available for disabled people in their preferred format, but often that potential is still not being fulfilled. We hope that this guide will help information providers build accessible, user-friendly websites that benefit everyone and extend that expertise to other forms of e-communication.
Chairperson, Scottish Accessible Information Forum