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Friday, 2 January 2015

Making Websites Accessible still falls short? We need to do MORE - pushing beyond just “Accessibility”

It’s interesting to read an article published by ABC news on 6 November 2014 in regards to “Blind woman launches claim of unlawful discrimination against Coles over website” and in recent times the banking industry like Westpac’s innovation to drive ‘service revolution’ published by The Australian 11 Sept 2014. The similarities on these two articles have a focus on accessibility issues in the Internet for all Internet users.

Gisele in the ABC news said she wants “Coles and other online shopping services to remember that there are blind and vision-impaired clients using their website and [they] need to be accessible to people like her” whereas Westpac highlights that they have strong focus on diversity and accessibility in their service revolution.

In addition we have Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Robin Banks saying her office deals with website accessibility complaints every year – The Examiner 6 Nov 2014. In the Accessibility News International archive you could find at least 1 article each month in 2014 around the globe either complaining about accessibility issues on the Internet in various industries such as education, airline, retail, utilities etc and demanding how organisations needs to cater for people with disabilities.

In addition amongst the disputes we even have companies fighting back where in one case “the Internet Association rushed to eBay’s defense, filing a friend-of-the-court brief saying the web is far too complicated to accommodate disabled people” [Ref]

Hueyify advocates improving website accessibility but questions whether the focus on accessibility is enough and we need to do much more than what the current recommendations suggest as it still falls short in truly solving problems faced by those disabled. While the standards do help, we need to accept that it is logically impossible to satisfy the expectations of each individual as we all have different ideas as to what works best, different cognitive comprehensions and personal preferences. In fact in our investigation into accessibility issues and collaborating with those who are disabled we received different suggestions and opinions as to what would be the best strategy or method to overcome problems faced and at times were conflicting. This clearly stresses that generalising a one-fit-for all isn’t feasible.

It is in our opinion that the accessibility expectations really needs to be dynamic and varying and has the ability to grow and evolve with the user as the user learns, improves and develops their website interaction skills. To put bluntly – accessibility isn’t “fixed” but rather “dynamic” depending on the disabilities in question, the level of experience the user has with Internet and personal preference as to what works best for the individual.

Eileen Fong the CEO of Hueyify, said that the founder of Hueyify – Kenneth Springer and her both strongly believe that a good website can only be the one that is most closely aligned to the reader’s personal preferences. This would truly make the user web experience to be the most optimal and enjoyable. If a website was closely aligned to the individual then it would mean to goal of satisfying both the general population and disabled community would both be achieved. The focus becomes about website experiences. Furthermore, this would not be limited to just online shopping, education or banking, but rather apply across all websites that the user interacts with.

According to the WHO there is 285 million people worldwide have some vision disability in which 39 million are blind and can not access content via sight leaving 246 million with low vision. Factoring in some of the other disabilities we have people with hearing impairment of 600 million people and 1 in 68 children who is autistic (based on Autism Speaks findings). Given the diversity of disabilities it would be challenging to find a solution that addresses the needs of each individual with regards to accessibility given that there is varying degrees of disabilities and different individual interpretations as to what makes accessibility work best for them.

Furthermore when considering the general audience - Ironpaper shows that colours increased web recognition by 80% where websites with a dark colour scheme increased growth by 2% whereas sites with lighter colour schemes experienced a 1.3% growth. Arguably both had shown growth but colour in websites is an influence on the readers. This is supported by “colorcom” who researches on colour and explains that the ideal colour choice would depend on gender, age group and demographic clearly highlighting the significance of personalisation of colour in web design. Ironpaper also states that 48% cited a website’s design in deciding a credibility of a business with 94% citing as the reason they mistrusted or rejected a website.

At Hueyify we believe that there is more to just a focus on “accessibility” when striving for the perfect web browsing experience. As a result we are pushing towards the next era of the Internet with a new product / service with a beta version to be released in 2015 with a focus on enabling personalisation of the entire Internet browsing experience. Hueyify has a learning engine that will learn more about your personal preferences the more you use it. It also enables the user to take control & manage all content in all web browsers providing the freedom, personalisation and preferences on how content can be displayed. Hueyify has a deeper understanding on the accessibility issues and limits because Hueyify was formed and founded based on a blind boy’s struggles with accessibility and ideas on how the Internet could be further improved and to help others who are also disabled.  The main objective is to improve people's Internet browsing experience by aiding comprehension, understanding and improving the overall web browsing experience.

Ms Fong states that it is more than just accessibility at play and is like viewing websites that was personally designed and tailored just for each individual. She also adds that what makes Hueyify ideal is that it is suitable for mainstream and disabled users – a win-win outcome satisfying everyone including website owners by having their websites accessible for all via Hueyify.

Hueyify has been receiving and seeking donations to fast track development of this project and it will have huge benefit to blind and autistic citizens worldwide (Please support us). It is free for anyone who is legally blind or autistic. To find out more visit: "why was Hueyify invented"


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