Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.
Designing Accessible Websites
Author: Sean Lindsay Posted: 5/5/1999; 5:37:37 PM Topic: Designing Accessible Websites Msg #: 5715 Prev/Next: 5714 / 5716
RE: New U.S. law requires Web sites to become 'handicapped accessible'
The gist, if you didn't read it: US government agency websites will soon be required to be accessible to people with disabilities. Companies doing business with the US government will be subject to the same requirements by August 2000.
I thought I might post some info for designers interested in making their pages accessible to people with disabilities.
First, a few things to bear in mind:
- 'handicapped accessible' is a dumb term. Think Universal Design instead. Most accommodations for accessibility are simple, most are easy to implement, most are 'common-sense' principles that make your site easier for everyone.
- HTML is an inherently-accessible document format. If your website is inaccessible it's because you made it so. But it's very easy to do this, so you're not in (legal) trouble unless you refuse to fix it.
- You're already used to how difficult it is to design pages that work in all browsers. It's virtually impossible to design a fully-accessible site that is 'cool' by the Web's eye-candy standards, without building in some alternatives. Get used to it.
- There isn't a lot of consistent information on designing accessible websites out there (it's as consistent as the rest of the Web). You should only rely on the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0, and encourage feedback from users.
- If you have a "Palm-Friendly" version of your site, you're already thinking accessibility.
- Frontier makes it very easy to build alternatives to inaccessible content, so don't fret.
If you want to know what is required for accessibility, read through these additional pages from the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0:
If you're interested in ensuring your website is accessible, but don't want to become an overnight expert in web accessibility, then you can talk to me (here or in email). I'm making myself available to advise on making Frontier-created sites accessible.
Why? Because I've got a simple script for producing a text-only alternative of every page on a website, and I'd like to improve it so that it's useful to more than just me. It needs a rewrite to support Regex, so I might as well make it stable and release it. There are a few other scripts for making various elements accessible, which could do with a polish. If there's enough interest, I'll combine them into a suite.
What's it to you? Well, if we make it easier to create accessible websites with Frontier, this becomes a selling point - for Frontier, and for you as an experienced Frontier designer. With US government agency websites required to be accessible within the next few months, and companies with goverment dealings to follow, accessibility experience may be what makes the difference in a contract bid.
Who am I? I was the Technology Editor for an Australian disability magazine for over two years, and I've been designing accessible websites for those two years. I've been using Frontier for designing accessible websites for over a year. So I know a little about how to do it. I don't know everything, yet, because I haven't made every mistake and learned how to fix it, yet. But I do know most of the pitfalls, and how to avoid them.
Jim Byrne of Connections Disability is a more active member of the Frontier community than I, so I hope to enlist his interest in this (Jim?).
And here's a spot quiz: can you find the accessibility problems on the front page of scriptingnews.com ?
There are responses to this message:
- Re: Designing Accessible Websites, firstname.lastname@example.org, 5/5/1999; 9:34:31 PM
- Re: Designing Accessible Websites, Philippe Dambournet, 5/5/1999; 9:49:09 PM
- Re: Designing Accessible Websites, Fredrik Lundh, 5/6/1999; 4:30:02 AM
- This HTML Kills (Designing Accessible Websites), Jim Byrne, 5/27/1999; 3:56:23 AM
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