David and Nafta, the cat.

"The power of the Web is in its universality.
Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect."

Tim Berners-Lee
W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web

Created in HTML Slidy: Slide Shows in XHTML



Way back when...

Do you remember?

What is Web Accessibility?


Why be concerned with Web Accessibility?


Accessibility as a Similar Concept to Usability...

Several authors discuss accessibility as a similar concept to usability.

Accessibility is often defined as barrier-free design.
Usability is focused on the ease of use of a product for users.

In general, accessibility is focused on older and disabled users while usability is focused on the typical user.
These topics are usually discussed separately.

However authors are increasingly interested in the intersection of accessibility and usability.

usability.gov          useit.com: Jakob Nielsen's Website

“Usable Accessibility”

How many people are we talking about?


Of the 55 million people with disabilities in the United States, according to a Census Bureau report:

InternetRetailer.com - Enabling Disabled Shoppers

How common is photosensitive epilepsy?
Around one in 131 people have epilepsy and of these people, up to 5% have photosensitive epilepsy. This is when seizures are triggered by certain frequencies of flashing lights or contrasting light and dark patterns such as stripes or checks.


What needs do we consider?

Assistive Technologies and Adaptive Strategies

How People with Disabilities Use the Web


Approaches to Web Accessibility


The Planning, Evaluation, Repair and Maintenance Process

Top Ten Best Practices for Great Government Websites fromWebcontent.gov
- Guide to Managing U.S. Government Websites

  1. Meet all federal requirements, policies, and other directives for public websites.
  2. Have a web governance plan.
  3. Have an established process for managing content.
  4. Collaborate across agencies to manage and deliver web content and avoid duplication.
  5. Focus on tasks rather than information.
  6. Follow usability best practices.
  7. Evaluate the effectiveness of your website.
  8. Get found on search engines.
  9. Create opportunities for customers to interact with their government.
  10. Celebrate when you've done the Top 9!

Considerations a developer should use in making an Accessible Website:

  1. Provide equivalent alternatives to auditory and visual content.
  2. Don't rely on color alone.
  3. Use markup and style sheets and do so properly.
  4. Clarify natural language usage.
  5. Create tables that transform gracefully.
  6. Ensure that pages featuring new technologies transform gracefully.
  7. Ensure user control of time-sensitive content changes.
  8. Ensure direct accessibility of embedded user interfaces.
  9. Design for device-independence.
  10. Provide context and orientation information.
  11. Provide clear navigation mechanisms.
  12. Ensure that documents are clear and simple.

Top Ten Web Accessibility Tips

  1. Provide Alt Text For Images, and alternative content for all other media.
  2. Use CSS for styling and HTML for document structure.
  3. Associate table headers with table cells, and use tables only for data.
  4. Provide a skip links option to let a user skip repetitive content.
  5. Don't use flash, frames or tables for layout purposes.
  6. Design for device independence. Don't require a mouse and don't require javascript to activate links etc.
  7. Use simple language on your website, and specify the language used.
  8. Make sure colours and fonts contrast sufficiently.
  9. Don't 'fix' a font size on your website.
  10. Use a fluid layout, using percentages or ems.


Ten common errors when Implementing Accessibility

  1. Don't use verbose ALT text
  2. Don't use random characters to separate links
  3. Don't insert text into empty form fields for the sake of it
  4. Don't use access keys
  5. Don't use the table summary (unless it actually adds value)
  6. Don't forget about the content
    1. important accessible content considerations:
      • Front-loading content so that each paragraph begins with the conclusion
      • Ensuring content has been broken down into manageable chunks with descriptive sub-headings
      • Using lists wherever appropriate
      • Ensuring that plain and simple language is used
  7. Don't worry too much about accessibility statements
  8. Don't agonize over acronyms and abbreviations
  9. Don't change the tab order (unless you have a very good reason to do so)
  10. Don't forget to listen with a screen reader

Write for the Web


Your website must be able to function with all different browsing technologies

This basically means that to ensure your website is accessible to everyone you must provide alternatives to:

Web accessibility: The basics

Designing for Learning Difficulties & Web Accessibility

Learning difficulties & web accessibility

The Future of Web Accessibility


There are three major factors that will shape web accessibility in the future:

The increased prominence of these factors could lead to some of the following:

Accessibility will become less and less guideline-driven
With the advent of new technology (such as AJAX), and the technology-neutral and vague nature of the new W3C guidelines (WCAG 2.0), accessibility is becoming less and less guideline driven. This means that employing accessibility experts is going to become more and more important for organizations as interpreting these guidelines correctly will become more and more difficult.
Alternative accessible versions will become the norm
Historically speaking, separate accessible versions were frowned on for both ethical and business reasons (see Separate text-only version? No thanks! for more on this). However, for the first time usability and accessibility are coming head-to-head with each other and rich interactive interfaces often can't be made fully accessible. In this instance, a separate version will have to be provided (but only after all other routes have been exhausted).
User generated content is likely to offer poor accessibility
Content created by users is becoming more and more commonplace on the web. This kind of content is being created at such a rapid rate that it's going to be impossible to police it for accessibility.
JavaScript, PDF & Flash will no longer be thought of as 'evil'
In WCAG 1.0, web managers and developers were basically told that their websites shouldn't rely on any of these three technologies. WCAG 2.0 on the other hand doesn't stipulate this, and rightly so as most assistive technologies can now support these technologies.

The future of web accessibility


Web accessibility myths

Web accessibility myths

More: Common Myths about Web Accessibility

To be sure, designing your web pages to meet Section 508 requirements benefits people with disabilities; accessibility also benefits many others:

Common Myths about Web Accessibility - Section 508 - NOAA's National Weather Service

Assistive Technology being used by everyone

Assistive Technology being used by everyone isn't something new.

Common Myths about Web Accessibility - Section 508 - NOAA's National Weather Service

Great Glass, Right?

Cat asking the question: Great Class?

END -STOP HALT -30- </html> QRT "that's all folks"

David and NAFTA, his cat.
David J. Hark

Shepherdstown, WV 25443-0201

Last updated: 27 January 2010
© David J. Hark 2010