Accessible Usable Design Anitra Pavka logo and link to Home page
Skip the navigational links Home ¦ Accessibility ¦ Usability ¦ About ¦ Resumé ¦ Archive

If you are a visual user and see this message, you most likely are not using a Web standards compliant browser. Please consider upgrading your browser. All information on this site is still accessible to you, but a standards compliant browser will enhance your experience.

Skip the month's calendar with links to each date
December 2002
01 02 03 04 05 06 07
08 09 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31 -- -- -- --
Main content

December Weblog

December 20, 2002

The article, "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, either.

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 everyone.

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

Maryland's Department of General Services site is the first U.S. state Web site to receive the National Federation of the Blind's Nonvisual Accessibility Web Certification. You may want to check out the criteria for selection to see if your site(s) qualify for it.

Lasting link for 12-18-02

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

Slashdot published 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 PDA's.

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 assistive technology.

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 the topic.

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,, that Lloyd recently launched.

December 3, 2002

The W3C 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. 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.