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“Web 2.0”, accessibility and social inclusion

“Web 2.0”, accessibility and social inclusion

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This essay explores the newly developed WEb 2.0 and how accessibility has incresed or decreased amongst people with disabilities. It looks at advantages and disadvantages of Web 2.0 and possible developments for the future to improve accessibility.
This essay explores the newly developed WEb 2.0 and how accessibility has incresed or decreased amongst people with disabilities. It looks at advantages and disadvantages of Web 2.0 and possible developments for the future to improve accessibility.

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Sep 01, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/13/2014

 
 1
Topic 4:
“Web 2.0”, accessibility and social inclusion
 
The current accessibility standards define how to make a web site accessible to people with disabilities(http://www.w3.org/WAI). Will these be good enough for the future? Social inclusion is very important to a person with a disability and the new uses of the web could create a potential for greater exclusionbecause of the wide sources of content. What are the accessibility issu
es in “Web 2.0”? 
 
Introduction
This essay aims to explain the current accessibility standards with regards to InformationTechnology (IT) and web 2.0 and how these affect people with disabilities in terms of socialinclusion/exclusion. A clear understanding is needed as to what exactly web 2.0 is and the questionswhich accompany it. What are the accessibility issues which accompany web 2.0? Who do these issuesaffect? Are there simple solutions and can companies take some steps in order to aid accessibility andsocial inclusion? These are some of the questions discussed in this essay.
Section 1: Web 2.0
It is very important firstly that there is a clear understanding as to what exactly ‘web2.0’ is. Web
2.0 is defined in wikipedia as,
“a perceived second 
generationof web-based communities andhostedservices(such associal-networking sites,wikis,blogs,andfolksonomies)which aim to facilitate creativity,collaboration, and sharing between users
. Examples of web 2.0 applications are wikis(websites which allow users to add and edit data), Really Simple Syndication (RSS), blogs, socialnetworks and time and resource management tools. According towww.icthubknowledgebase.org,manyof the first generation Web 2.0 tools have been built without much thought for web accessibility. Figure1.1 below lists the many features of web 2.0.
 
 2
Figure1.1
Figure 1.2 below illustrates how web 2.0 has evolved but still kept its original features.
Figure 1.2
 
 3One major issue which can cause problems for screen reader users is AJAX.
“AJAX
 (AsynchronousJavaScriptandXML), is a group of inter-relatedweb developmenttechniques used for creating interactiveweb applications
” (Wikipedia, 2008).
The idea behind AJAX is that small amounts of data are exchanged with the server behind the scenes, so that the entire web page does not have to bereloaded each time the user requests a change. This is supposed to decrease loading times and increaseoverall browsing speeds. It has some serious accessibility issues with regards to disabled people such asinaccessible login boxes or security tests with no alternatives like audio. Another problem is that screenreader users are not alerted when content has changed dynamically without the page refreshing.Therefore people with sight problems will be confused when pages update automatically and they arenot alerted via audio.Another issue with web 2.0 are that there are inaccessible interfaces which are dependent on aninteraction with a mouse or pointing device with no alternative keyboard option. There are also manyimages which are not accompanied by text as well as video and audio players which are not compatiblewith assistive technologies and rely heavily on mice and pointing devices. These are just some of thedifficult obstacles disabled people face with web 2.0 and some of them are obstacles which they simplywill not be able to overcome. This is a serious problem in a world which should be creating opportunitiesfor greater social inclusion as opposed to an almost ignorant, rushed development of the web tofacilitate the general upper classed public and leave the disabled even more socially excluded. Onewould imagine that with such intelligence and innovation in the IT sector that these issues could easilyhave been overcome if these unfortunate disabled people were considered from the earliest designstage of web 2.0.According to (Zajicek, 2007), everyday activities such as seeking information, filling in forms,shopping and making appointments , can be done easier and cheaper on the web. However, thesewebsites are built for young, socially integrated people who own their own computers and have accessto high speed broadband. There are of course many elderly and disabled people who do not have accessto these novelties for reasons such as low budgets. As web 2.0 continues to make daily tasks easier, itbecomes more and more a part of modern life. People who do not have access to it are becoming moreand more excluded from modern life as a result (Zajicek, 2007).Social networking is a important feature of web 2.0. This includes the likes of Bebo, Facebook andMyspace whereby users create their own personal page with information about their hobbies andinterests, pictures, music and interactive games such as poker through which they can alsocommunicate with one another. Users can also send one another messages and emails. These sites have

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