NOAA logo - Click to go to the NOAA homepage National Weather Service   NWS logo - Click to go to the NWS homepage
Section 508 - Accessibility banner is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.
Common Myths about Web Accessibility
#1 People with disabilities don't use the web

For people with disabilities, the web is more than a convenience - in many ways it's a means of education, work, shopping, and communicating with others. People with disabilities rely on accessible sites - if you don't have those people visiting your site is it because you have created barriers for them?

#2 Web accessibility is too difficult for the average web designer

None of us were born knowing HTML, accessibility is simply learning a few basic principles that can best be summed up as "don't assume that everyone views your web page in the same way you do" - The purpose of our pages is to provide information - design your pages to ensure that the information isn't lost through incompatible pages.

#3 Accessible web pages take too much time to create

This is the same as saying "it takes too much time to check grammar, spelling, and proof-reading a document". Creating an accessible web page is creating a page that is interoperable, platform independent, and functional for everyone.

#4 An accessible web page is nothing more than plain text

Not true! Web accessibility isn't about making text-only pages. The guidelines generally don't say "don't do that", rather they say "here's how to do that - accessibly". The Alt tag is a good example. ALT allows you to add text to substitute for an image; to make the page accessible you add ALT text, not remove the image from the page. Accessibility isn't taking away from graphics and multimedia - it's enhancing it.

#5 Good assistive technology can solve all accessibility problems

Assistive Technology (or AT) has made tremendous strides in the past several years. Advances in technology and computers hardware and software have opened doors to opportunities for many. However; AT can't read the mind of the web page author and guess what they meant by a particular graphic - that information has to be provided. AT can only work with the information provided - accessibility is nothing more than providing the information in a format that is easily understood.

#6 Web accessibility only helps people with disabilities

To be sure, designing your web pages  to meet Section 508 requirements benefits people with disabilities; accessibility also benefits many others

  • Your web site can be used by latest technology such as PDA's, Internet enabled pagers and phones
  • Those with slow dial-up connections (especially common in rural areas as well as outside of the U.S.)
  • Those who have turned off graphics for faster page loading

Assistive Technology being used by everyone isn't something new. The first typewriter proven to have worked was built by Pellegrino Turri in 1808 for his blind friend Countess Carolina Fantoni da Fivizzono. Accessibility benefits everyone - curbside cutouts, a result of accessibility laws, are used not just by the mobility impaired but by the delivery people, mothers pushing strollers, and travelers pulling their suitcases to and from airport terminals. Closed captioning on TV was intended for people with hearing impairments. However, it's also used by people learning English or learning to read, and by bars and restaurants with television displays so that customers can follow a television broadcast despite the noise of a crowd or a band.

Accessibility can be summed up by saying that anyone, using any kind of browser, can visit any dot gov site, and get a full and complete understanding of the information contained on the site, as well as the full and complete ability to interact with the Site.

To next page - The Law

Back Top

Home, Contact Us

US Dept of Commerce
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Weather Service
1325 East-West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Content POC: Ronald Jones
Page last modified: 20-Sep-2005 12:25 PM
Information Quality
Privacy Policy
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
About Us
Career Opportunities