The Webby Awards is the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet. It's been around since the late 1990's, and each year about this time it announces this year's nominees (to be announced on April 9 this year), followed soon after by the winners (on April 30 this year). As the gear up for the announcements, there's typically much fanfare, and this year (today, in fact) they have announced a new website: The Webby Awards Gallery + Archive.
In their press release, David-Michel Davies, Executive Director of The Webby Awards, says this:
Over the past 16 years, Webby Winners have continually set the standard for excellence on the Web; they are the sites, innovations and world-changing platforms that have shaped the Internet into what it is today.
And what exactly is the Internet today? Is it fully accessible to everyone who has web-enabled technologies? Or is it racing ahead to be cool and clever, even if that means leaving entire groups of people behind?
There are occasional positive signs that designers and developers care about not discriminating against people who use audible or tactile interfaces rather than visual ones; or people who are physically unable to use a mouse and are instead operating computers by keyboard or voice; or people who are unable to hear audio.
These designers and developers try to build their innovations on a foundation of semantic, standards-based markup and make an honest effort not to leave a significant portion of the world's population behind (more than 1 billion people worldwide have disabilities, according to the World Health Organization).
I would hope that The Webby Awards, in setting the standard for excellence on the Web, would also set a standard for accessibility. Unfortunately their new website exemplifies what's bad about the Web. It embraces cool and clever at the expense of accessible and usable.
Shortly after Webby Awards began in the late 1990's, the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 1.0 became an official W3C recommendation. After 15 years and exhaustive efforts from the W3C and countless others to educate the world about accessible web design, it is inexcusable for any website to not conform to at least to the basic principles of WCAG. When people create websites that completely ignore accessibility they are either (a) clueless about web design and development or (b) willing to discriminate against people with disabilities.
Here are my observations about the Webby Awards Gallery + Archive: