Accessible Usable Design
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December 20, 2002
"Disabilities Act in cyberspace?", pisses me off. There's no nicer way to say it. Its writer,
James L. Gattuso, obviously doesn't have all of the facts and doesn't care to get them,
Gattuso claims that not allowing equal access to Web sites, such as e-commerce sites, is
good for consumers.
It's not good for disabled users. They're consumers, too!
It's only good for businesses who don't want to (or can't) pay the extra expense to retrofit
existing sites to make them accessible.
Gattuso isn't aware that some court cases have ruled in
favor of the ADA's
applicability to the Web. Yes, the ADA desperately needs to be updated to reflect modern
technology. There's no denying that. However, that doesn't mean we should stop defending
people's right to access publicly provided goods and services. One case where the
ADA covered the Web is
Vincent Martin, et al., vs. MARTA, which I discussed toward the end of my recent article,
"Accountability of Accessibility and Usability". In that article, I also analyzed the Southwest Airlines
Web site case.
Gattuso then assumes it requires an exorbitant amount of extra time and labor to make any
Web site "accessible". That's NOT true for most Web sites, especially if accessibility
is designed into the site from the beginning.
Web accessibility is not an "all or nothing" venture. Little things can help or hinder
users. For example, adding a short description ("alt text") to images that display
text is sometimes enough to make a site usable for blind users. Or, while you design the template
page on a shopping cart, make sure the tab order through the form is correct. These are easy
things that are often overlooked because of simple ignorance on the Web developers' and
designers' part. Web developers don't have to give up completely just because they can't fully caption tables or
provide long descriptions for every image. It's this kind of ignorance, apathy, and
misinformation that we must overcome before we can make the Web more accessible for
On a more pleasant note, I'm taking the next couple weeks off to visit friends and family.
I'll resume site updates at the end of the month. Happy holidays, everyone!
December 18, 2002
December 17, 2002
The W3C released their User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0
as an official recommendation. This will help ensure user agents (such as Web browsers) implement
a basic level of accessibility support. The
W3C also released a FAQ about the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines and updated
Techniques for User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0, which provides examples of the guideline's implementation.
December 16, 2002
The article, "An Inclusive Internet", discusses how U.S. states are trying to
make their sites accessible.
Most states are required to meet Section 508 guidelines. Some states
add additional Web accessibility guidelines, usually drawn from the
W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
Awareness, training, and consistency in usage (such as through approved templates) are the key to
proper implementation of guidelines.
December 12, 2002
Paul Bohman announced that the WAVE 3.0 alpha,
accessibility validation software is ready for public review. Comments, bug reports, and
suggestions are welcomed. In the email announcement he wrote:
WebAIM has continued development of the WAVE project which Len Kasday
started at Pennsylvania's Initiative on Assistive Technology (PIAT), at
The Institute on Disabilities, Temple University.
Not all of the planned enhancements are functional yet, but I think you
will be pleased with the many that are. It's a great tool for checking
your web sites for accessibility problems.
The WAVE provides feedback in a very different format than most other validation software.
You may want to view the explanation of its icons before using it. If you've used the WAVE before, you might be more interested in
finding out what's new in version 3.0.
December 9, 2002
Joe Clark's answers to reader submitted questions. It's long, but a good read. I found his comments
about making Macromedia Flash
accessible most interesting. I also agree with his claim that
a Web site will be vastly more accessible if Web developers simply add alt text descriptions to
images and use valid markup (or close to it). Without those basics, sites won't be
accessible to any non-standard user agent, including cell phones or
December 6, 2002
The W3C redesigned their Home page! It now looks more attractive (in standards compliant
browsers). The page validates as
XHTML 1.0 Strict.
They used CSS for both styling
and page layout. Plus, they added extra links to facilitate site navigation while using
December 5, 2002
Jim Byrne wrote a lengthy overview of how to best use fonts on the Web,
"Understanding web typography". Fonts and text, improperly used or carelessly defined, can make a site
inaccessible, but when approached prudently, they can make sites both more accessible and more
usable. While this article isn't comprehensive, it will give you plenty to consider on
December 4, 2002
Ian Lloyd, (et al.), wrote an excellent tutorial on
how to create accessible "pop-up" windows.
To some people that might sound like an oxymoron, but it is possible. The tutorial is part of
the new Web accessibility resource site,
Accessify.com, that Lloyd recently launched.
December 3, 2002
released a Last Call Working Draft of their
Speech Synthesis Markup Language Version 1.0. This language will provide Web developers more control over the speech
generated by voice browsers. The W3C is
accepting comments on the draft through January 15, 2003.
December 2, 2002
Forgive my hiatus. I've returned from a long, much-needed Thanksgiving holiday break.
Slashdot.org invites you to
ask Joe Clark about Web site accessibility. Submit a question to Slashdot and Joe will answer the ten
highest-moderated questions. Joe is the author of the recently published book,
"Building Accessible Websites".
Check out the
chapter by chapter overview of his book
if you're curious about what it covers.