How We Work to Make the Web Speak

Susie Christensen's article in Computers In Libraries Vol. 21, No. 9, discusses how librarians at the Webcenter at the Danish National Library for the Blind make their content accessible and offer simple suggestions for making your site accessible to the blind. In order to make Web sites accessible to most people, there are a few steps you have to take. But since many people don't even know, for instance, that a blind person can use the Internet, these simple steps are very rarely taken when Web sites are designed. Here in Denmark, we don't have any legislation to ensure that disabled people will have access to technology (like Section 508 in the U.S.). The government occasionally calls upon technology developers to think about the accessibility issues, but until recently, this has been considered a very expensive and complicated task. To alter this view on accessibility, the Danish National Library for the Blind opened the Webcenter in January 2000. At the Webcenter, our mission is to help organizations that create online information to make it all available to everyone. That is why we make an effort to teach the Webmasters, Web administrators, and other technology developers at the public libraries (and at other content providers) how to design solutions that are fancy, interesting, and accessible, all at the same time. We believe that when the competence to do so is in every public library, then the responsibility to ensure access will be there too.