A Web For Everyone
5 comments | Posted: 25 January 06 in General, by Justin Thorp
Over the last few years, the web has become an essential aspect of our lives and a ubiqutous part of our culture. Everyday on the web information is getting published, projects are being collaborated on, and commerce is taking place. At the 2006 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Terry Semel, the Chairman of Yahoo, said in his keynote, “We think the Internet isn’t a Web page anymore, it’s a vehicle for delivering…”
Slowly churches are starting to move in the direction of having presences on the web. Some are seeing great opportunities with pursuing the web as an avenue of fellowship, discipleship, and evangelism. Churches are podcasting sermons, putting up Bible study lessons, and creating ways for people to electronically share prayer requests. Churches are starting to see the web as a “vehicle for delivering” the Gospel message.
With this happening, it is essential, especially in the church, for everyone to be able to have access to the web regardless of their disability. We do not want someone to miss the power of the Gospel message just because someone was too lazy to do something like putting alt text on their images or some other web accessibility best practice. Tim Berners Lee, Director of the W3C and Inventor of the World Wide Web once said, “The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.”
Beyond your web site becoming accessible to people with disabilities, making your web site accessible has many other positive factors that will help your church. It can help to decrease cost of maintenance and bandwidth, help prepare for further web and technological innovations, and to get better ranking on search engine listings (search engine optimization.) As Berners-Lee said, Web accessibility is an important part of the web and its universal nature. For more information on the benefits of making your website accessible, check out the W3C’s business case for organizational web standards.
The W3C has and continues to work hard at providing great resources to help in the process once there has been a decision to work towards an accessible web presence. The W3C has developed the WCAG as a set of checkpoints that can be followed to help make your web site accessible to the broadest possible audience. The checkpoints are split into three levels. This will help you to prioritize what checkpoints are feasible to implement. They have also developed detailed techniques to help with development of accessible HTML pages and CSS documents.
Making a web site accessible helps to take the web as a whole to the next level of where it can go. The church, ever since Martin Luther and the printing press, has played a significant role in helping to take communication with people to the next level. As Terry Semel of Yahoo said, we have this amazing “vehicle for delivering” content in the web. We have the tools that we need to help us to make web sites that will be seen by the broadest possible audience. Let’s harness the web and these tools to spread the Gospel and reach lots of people for Christ.
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