Universal access means equal access for all people no matter what device they are using. It is not about who has a computer and who has not in the sense of access to Internet. It is about content is available being accessible to any standards-compliant web device.
The difference between viewing a site with a multimedia browser, an older browser and a text-only browser, makes this point nicely. There are many more possibilities, of course. In addition, we invite you to view our videos of people using a range of devices.We have prepared some demonstrations for you which show some websites as viewed through each of these browsers: Internet Explorer 4.5, Netscape 2 (with images off) and Lynx. All sites were viewed on a Macintosh in August 1998.
Websites which are universally accessible still have meaning whatever browser is chosen and they are still navigable whatever browser is used. Currently, many people with sight disabilities, and others who for one reason or another are not able to use their eyesight at a particular time, eg because they are driving a car, often depend upon screen readers. What is read out by these devices depends upon what is available for reading.
We can see from images of screens that what is available varies enormously depending upon whether the website has been well-built or not. Well-built websites have a degradation path in terms of images, for instance, which does not unnecessarily degrade the access to the website's content.
Copyright Liddy Nevile 19 March 2001. This material may be copied if source is acknowledged.