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Web Accessibility? 21

Posted by Cliff
from the 508--ain't-it-great dept.
conJunk asks: "With Slashdot recently becoming HTML 4.01 compliant, my thoughts now drift to the subject of web accessibility. We all know that the Section 508 requirements are legally binding to those who work for or with the U.S. government, but it's still unclear whether or not U.S. companies are required to have accessible sites (unlike England, where it's very clear). How important are web accessibility and the W3C Accessibility Guidelines to you and/or your company? Where do you see this issue going in the next 10 years?"
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Web Accessibility?

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  • by xmas2003 (739875) * on Friday September 23, 2005 @07:02PM (#13634224) Homepage
    How important are web accessibility and the W3C Accessibility Guidelines to you and/or your company?

    While this wasn't posted to the front page of /., my guess is that since there are ZERO comments after 15 minutes at Ask Slashdot that it is just not that important to many folks.

  • I try to make sure my code is as cross browser happy as can be. Im not sure I am up to speed on accessibility. But I would think that if a site is available via LYNX that it would also be available to a text to speach browser, as far as other accessibilities im not sure I would know what to check for. However I am now intereseted in checking in to this because some of the people I am working with have various disabilities/handicaps.
    • Here's my top 10 big things to be aware of when it comes to accessibility:
      1.) color blindness
      2.) high contrast
      3.) provide a way to skip navigation (users of screen readers benefit big time here)
      4.) provide summary attributes for tables, as well as caption tags in those tables, provided they're data tables and not layout tables
      5.) consider link tags in your head section to provide hrefs for the home, next, and previous links
      6.) use headings properly
      7.) don't force open new windows
      8.) if you use javascript fo
      • if you use javascript for anything, don't use it as href="javascript:blah()" use href="#" onclick="blah(); return false;" instead

        What? That's just as bad! People with Javascript disabled will go to the top of the page instead of to the correct URL. The correct code is to use a normal link with an onclick handler. That means actually put the URL in the href attribute.

        An unconditional false return value isn't good enough either. Load up the page in Firefox. Hold down ctrl and click the link. N

        • You're correct about links to actual urls. What I was thinking of (and didn't differentiate) was for specific javascript functions you were wanting to run, not actual pages you could surf to.

          I did miss the alt thing. Oops.
    • As a blind user i find that most pages are quite usable by myself and a screenreader. My personal recommendation would be to download and install a copy of jaws for windows screenreader from http://www.hj.com/ [hj.com]
      you can run jaws in 40 minute mode review the page with jaws see how it sounds then make changes accordingly. However this is not always the best way to check a page because the user of the screenreader will have the best grasp of how to work with the screenreader and the document.
      then again i'm alwa
  • by Kawahee (901497)
    How about we change the Times New Roman and whatever default font *nix uses to like font-family: sans-serif;
  • by Enrico Pulatzo (536675) on Friday September 23, 2005 @08:24PM (#13634929)
    Realistically speaking there is a ton of work the major browser players need to do in order to advance the cause of accessibility. Mozilla and IE especially are horrid when it comes to representing metadata to disabled persons.

    Standards-wise there needs to be a screen-reader stylesheet, so those programs can be more beneficial to their users.

    The biggest problem (as of today) probably lies in the content creation tools. Yeah, I know, the best sites should be coded by hand (which I do), but the majority of websites are maintained and created by tools that don't give a rip about accessibility (in any realistic way). Dreamweaver, Frontpage, et al really need to start stepping up in terms of accessibility.

    Finally, educating those who actually do content management about the needs of the disabled is essential. Since it's a pain in the ass to make a site easily accessible by disabled persons, you need to care about the cause to put the time in to do it right.
    • << there needs to be a screen-reader stylesheet, so those programs can be more beneficial to their users

      It would be nice if more than a handful of screenreaders supported the aural media type [w3.org]. Unfortunately, screen readers lean toward the screen media type (go figure) so support for this won't come for a while.

      Although, I do agree -- a bit more work could be done to make the reading flow a bit more.

      • by Enrico Pulatzo (536675) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @01:49AM (#13636386)
        But a screen reader isn't the same thing as an aural user agent. A screen reader is an attempt to convey visible information via sound, whereas an aural user agent reads what is available. It's kinda like the difference between closed captioning and subtitles. One just represents who said what, and the other represents that plus environmental sounds that are pertinent to the reader.
    • Standards-wise there needs to be a screen-reader stylesheet, so those programs can be more beneficial to their users.

      Already done. [w3.org] Right now, only Opera and Emacspeak have even the slightest clue about aural CSS, but it's been sitting there ready to be implemented for years. JAWS etc haven't a clue about W3C specifications though.

    • If your using XHTML then it's fairly easy to automate some of the basic accessability requirements like verifying all that anchors have description and that links are more than just one word. It's also fairly easy to put abbreviations and acronyms in with XSL, and you can automatically generate RSS feeds based on content.

      You can also do a lot with CSS too, like moving the location of menus to the a menu bar for 'normal' users and to the top for users that have screen readers and the like.
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  • I routinely ignore rare browsers, non-english speakers etc. How different is it to ignore rare browser-human
    combinations. The market is too small and too specialized. I'm in business, what is the return on investment?

    I know, flamebait, but fairly honest.
    • I routinely ignore rare browsers, non-english speakers etc.

      I'm in business, what is the return on investment?

      Well, depending on your location, not getting sued is a big return on investment. SOCOG got fined A$20,000 for making an inaccessible website.

      You have to consider cost, too. How much would it cost to specify that you require an accessible website when you are commissioning it? How much would it cost to retrofit an inaccessible website in a hurry after somebody threatens a lawsuit? The

  • As a professional web developer, my focus is well designed, standards compliant, highly accessable websites. I'm still working pretty hard on developing sites good for those using TTS readers (ex: putting common text content at the bottom of the code), but other than that, I stick with HTML 4.01 Strict (minus one of my sites, which uses Textpattern.. I'm switching to a different CMS over Xmas) with CSS.

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