Accessibility is a quality criterion
Jan Eric Hellbusch
Ever since the mid-1990s, I've been interested in the accessibility of applications and websites. Since then, I'm constantly on the lookout for new and improved ways of providing help to people with disabilities to autonomously use the Internet.
I've published my thoughts and experiences on the subject of "Accessible web design" in a variety of publications and professional articles. It is important for me to pass on my know-how and to exchange thoughts with the interested public as well as with people affected. This is why I regularly hold lectures, take part in congresses and am committed to offer my services on a voluntary scale to associations for the blind (e.g. DBSV, PRO RETINA Deutschland e.V.). My dedication also stems from my personal background: since over 30 years, I myself am affected by a progressive visual impairment and am by now blind.
Since 2005, I've been working as a freelance accessibility consultant and I accompany companies and organisations in the process of incorporating accessibility in the Internet. Experience has shown me that despite the clear guidelines that have been set up that there is no such thing as 100 per cent accessibility. The question is rather: how accessible should a page be and where is there need for action? To make a confident decision about this, it's important to understand the users' perspective and know their needs. My particular concern therefore is to raise awareness of accessibility among all providers and designers of web contents.
My clients appreciate the experience I bring to their Internet presences, because integrating accessibility is much more than simply the implementation of guidelines: it is an important quality criterion for good, state-of-the-art websites. Improving them does not only help people with disabilities, but also makes Internet pages more accessible to users as a whole. Apart from that, accessibility is an ongoing process that is constantly redefining itself, as new devices and new software set us before ever-changing challenges.