Presentation of content is just as important as the content. Regularly spending a couple of hours per a day surfing the internet for new content can become quite sore on the eyes. The number of non-compliant W3C sites is astounding. Why should a site even think about it? Well, there are two reasons:
1.The number of people that suffer from one form or another of disability is extraordinarily high. In this group you have to include sight, cognitive, physical, mental impairments etc…
2.In the UK it is now law that your site has to be accessible by all users. If you are providing a service and you fail to do this you can be fined. Even if the site is hosted in another country.
These reasons aside there is very little point in writing something if it cannot be understood by the people reading it. As it is becoming increasingly apparent, the fastest growing group of users on the internet are the silver surfers, and as you grow older your eyesight deteriorates. The question you have to ask yourself: Can you really afford to lose this group of customers through bad presentation?
Here are some tips from the WC3 website:
Although some people cannot use images, movies, sounds, applets, etc. directly, they may still use pages that include equivalent information to the visual or auditory content. The equivalent information must serve the same purpose as the visual or auditory content. Thus, a text equivalent for an image of an upward arrow that links to a table of contents could be “Go to table of contents”. In some cases, an equivalent should also describe the appearance of visual content (e.g., for complex charts, billboards, or diagrams) or the sound of auditory content (e.g., for audio samples used in education).
This guideline emphasizes the importance of providing text equivalents of non-text content (images, pre-recorded audio, video). The power of text equivalents lies in their capacity to be rendered in ways that are accessible to people from various disability groups using a variety of technologies. Text can be readily output to speech synthesizers and braille displays, and can be presented visually (in a variety of sizes) on computer displays and paper. Synthesized speech is critical for individuals who are blind and for many people with the reading difficulties that often accompany cognitive disabilities, learning disabilities, and deafness. Braille is essential for individuals who are both deaf and blind, as well as many individuals whose only sensory disability is blindness. Text displayed visually benefits users who are deaf as well as the majority of Web users.
Providing non-text equivalents (e.g., pictures, videos, and pre-recorded audio) of text is also beneficial to some users, especially nonreaders or people who have difficulty reading. In movies or visual presentations, visual action such as body language or other visual cues may not be accompanied by enough audio information to convey the same information. Unless verbal descriptions of this visual information are provided, people who cannot see (or look at) the visual content will not be able to perceive it.