Accommodating the disabled is the law of the land for certain web pages. What may appear to some as the sophisticated
use of chic new technology may in fact throw up barriers which impede access by whole groups of people..not something
you want to do, I'm sure.. deny access to anyone needing or wanting the information your pages have to offer.
ADA Accessibility Requirements Apply To Internet Web Pages
Posted in the National Disability Law Reporter, Vol. 10, Iss. 6
Accessibility can affect the blind, the sight impaired, the otherwise disabled, the learning disabled, those who are "browser challenged" and those
whose only access to the world wide web is via a toll call or text service such as a BBS or freenet. So please, when you design your web pages, remember all of these
folks.. don't just say "upgrade" , many can't. For too many, the choice between necessities like food & medicines and a new computer or programs is really no choice at all.
To be Accessible, Pages do NOT need to be and SHOULD NOT be DULL!
LINKS TO WEB ACCESSIBILITY SITES & TOOLS
Don't use <BLINK> tags, apparently some screen-readers lock-up when they encounter blinking text, and the
consensus seems to be that they are more of an irritant than an enhancement on web pages.
It is much easier for most of us to read long blocks of text if there is white space or indents to the right and left of the text. For some
who are sight impaired, long text without white space around it is impossible to read. Liberal use of <BLOCKQUOTE> </BLOCKQUOTE> tags will make your pages usable by many of the sight-impaired and much
easier for those who aren't.
W3 advises against using BLOCKQUOTE tags because they aren't supported by all browsers. However, I've yet to hear of a browser doing much more than ignoring
the tags and find their use too much a boon to the sight impaired and sight able to stop using them. A so-called alternative is the use of various style sheets, but you will run into the same kind of browser compatability problems with them and they make the dullest, often hardest to read pages on the internet.
More comments on Style Sheets
The neat thing about using BLOCKQUOTE is that until now, I've not found a browser that doesn't accept or ignore the tag .. including Lynx - and for many, if not most, who are visually impaired, but not blind.. it's almost required to have that extra margin space BLOCKQUOTE so easily gives.
- BOLD or STRONG.
Bold or Strong Text should be used as often as possible unless all of your text is size=4 or greater. It's much easier for
old eyes to see, and much easier for the sight-impaired to see.
- COLOR & GRAPHICS.
Some Learning Disabilities require the use of graphics and color to make the pages accessable, so use both
judiciously, mindful of backround vs text color problems in both the body of your pages and within tables and with alt='"" tags on all graphics.
Do, however, make sure you use high contrasting text to backround - for instance black on white or white on black or BOLD and STRONG blue on light blue if you want your text to be seen.
For the most part, forms are not accessible for the blind or for some browsers or are very difficult to use. For short forms,
such as search or inputing userid and password information, ask the question, then place the input line on the next line
by itself. Radio and click buttons and pull down choice menus are not easily accessable for the blind. It's a good idea to always
place alternative text versions of long forms, such as surveys and polls, with a "text version" link at the very top of the page
and an email address where completed text forms can be sent on both pages.
Frames are pretty much a no-no. Lower End browsers, including all but the latest lynx text browser, can't access frames pages at all and some whom are blind, sight impaired or otherwise disabled can not
use frames pages or have a very difficult time with frames even if their browsers support them. An alternative no-frames page doesn't help the latter surfers, so if
you feel you must have frames on your pages or you will die .. place an opening page with a choice to a frames and a non-frames page.
In depth file on the InAccessibility of FRAMES
People with text browsers and the blind can not see graphics so all graphics should have an alt="" tag in them. ie:
<IMG WIDTH=40 HEIGHT=40 SRC="blue_icon.gif" ALT="Blue Icon Graphic ">
or if The graphic is also a link always put a text link under the graphic because some browsers will not "see" the alt="" tag link:
false link to that fake page
Many Accessibility "experts" suggest you put a link titled d next to graphics the allows access to files describing those graphics. I tried that, and few understood what the d stood for and resented being drawn to a short page describing a graphic they couldn't see.
- IMAGE MAPS.
Graphical Image Mapes can not be seen or used by the blind at all, no matter what browser they are using, or by those who are browser challenged
BUT, they do make a page easier to use for people with some learning disabilities. If you use image maps, use the alt="" tag and include text links or alternative text pages.
- ITALICS or EMPHASIS.
Use the <I> </I> and <EM> </EM> tags very sparingly .. Italics are not easy to read when whole
paragraphs or pages are in italics.
Many browsers can not use Java script or applets and some browsers will crash when they encounter them. Best thing to do is stay
away from java if you can OR use an alt="" tag describing the java applet with in the <applet code="...></applet> tags OR set up text alternative pages.
The blind can't "see" links embedded in paragraphs. Try to point to links, and put links on lines by themselves. For example:
Follows is a fake link to That.com<BR>
Also, if you put links side by side, the blind can't tell one from another. Number them and point to them, it will make it much easier:
Follows are three links to SoInSo Pages:
LINK 1 that.com - LINK 2 another.com - LINK 3 yetanother.com
- PAGE & TABLE SIZE.
Don't ever put a page size in your <body> tags and if you must in <TABLE> tags make it a percent or else you will force
many visiting your site to have to scroll sideways to read all of your text.
End all sentences, headers and list items with some form of suitable punctuation because
screen-readers do interpret punctuation for the listener and lists, headings or titles without punctuation may be run together by a screen-reader, making it difficult for the listener to understand. Bullets, placed by Lists are easy visually, but may be confusing to a sight impaired user.
- SOUND FILES.
Are irritating at best and can make it so the blind can't use their screen-readers or speech synthesizers. For those who don't have sound ability, these files
often open up an alert window they may not be able to see, and they can't go forward or back. Give people a choice with a link to your sound file .. don't force your taste in
music or sound on those who are unable to use those sound files.
- STYLE SHEETS.
W3 advises against using BLOCKQUOTE tags, TABLES and other things because they aren't supported by all browsers or can pose accessibility problems.
However, I've yet to hear of a browser doing much more than ignoring the tags, and tables can easily be made accessibile
and I find the use of these tags too much a boon to the sight impaired and sight able to stop using them.
A so-called alternative is the use of various style sheets, but you will run into browser compatability
problems with them and they make the dullest, often hardest to read pages on the internet.
Another File Mentioning the Lack of Browser Support for Style Sheets, and Blandness of Pages
Warnings about Style Sheets and Accessibility
The neat thing about using BLOCKQUOTE and TABLES tags is that until now, I've not found a browser that doesn't
accept them or just ignore them .. including Lynx - and for many, if not most, who are visually impaired, but not blind.. it's
almost required to have that extra margin space BLOCKQUOTE and TABLES so easily give.
Older browsers can only see the background color described in the <BODY></BODY> tag. So if you have a background color of
Black and try to make the background color within a table white, with black text, those surfers will not be able to see your text because it
will show up as black text on the page's black background color defined within the <BODY> tags.
having a background image won't help if surfers to your page come in with graphics turned off because they have slow modems, are in a hurry and never load graphics and/or have only toll call access.
- TABLES & <PRE> TAGS-Side By Side Columns.
People using screen-readers or speech synthesizers more often than not can not use side by side tables. The programs will read the
first line of the left table, then the first line of the right table, second line of the left table, second line of the right table, and make no sense out of any of what
you placed on your web page. Tables on top of each other pose no read problem if you use <BR> and <P> tags so text from one cell won't run in to text from another. Side by side tables can
also be an irritant for those without challenges. Few things I hate worse than having to work the keyboard or mouse to scroll down to read
one full column of text then scroll up to catch the other column.
See comments on Style Sheets VS Tables
<A HREF = "http://www.that.com" TARGET = "Resource Window">target example</A>
Targeted links open up new browser windows, often without the surfer knowing that is happening until his/her browser crashes.
These kind of links are irritating even to those who can "see" the added browser windows and I can think of no benefit to them
at all - so best not to use them.
- TEXT ALTERNATIVE PAGES.
Always put links to text alternative pages in the very upper right hand corner of each page so those who need them can find
the link quickly and easily.
- TEXT & BACKROUND COLOR.
This is a toughie but I think, your best bet always is a very dark text on a very light background. Reverse printing is easier for some,
but more difficult for most. Never use very light text on light backgrounds or darkish text on dark backgrounds.. and stay away from
any but the most common colors because some graphic cards can not see any but those .. remember, what
you see with your browser may not be what someone else sees with his/her browser. Don't depend on a backround graphic
to overcome text/backround color problems. Many can not load those graphics. SEE TABLES-COLOR for more problems
with text and backround colors.
- TEXT SIZE.
Don't go smaller than size="3" which is the default text size in html or the size you get if you don't specify a size. It's best not to
use size=4 or higher in anything but headline type text. It's overwhelming to all who have any sight at all. Most who need larger
text sizes either use free programs that do that or can change the text size in their browser for all pages they access.
It is nice, though, to offer large text page options if you can.
Also, don't mix text sizes within lines or paragraphs. Some screen readers will only see one of the sizes, so the listener will
hear unfinished words, ie: "Don't Do That" will be come out as "on't o hat" if you make the first letter of each word
a larger size than the other letters.
Always run your pages through html validators and/or tag checkers. Bad html can crash some browsers and make it so some
others can't "see" your pages. For a listing of html validators access the following link