Zach Margolis


Accessibility Rocks.

Saturday September 13th, 2008

Fact: Accessibility is important. For a while now, I’ve been trying really hard to support an accessible Internet. That means that anybody who can understand English (spoken or written) can get the gist of my web sites no matter what browser they have. When I get confident enough to write websites in other languages, the same will apply for those.

HTML has specific tags that help with this kind of accessibility. The H tags (h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, and h6) are headers that can be used to break up sections. I like to use an h1 for the title of my page, an h2 for each section of said page, and h3s for subsections of those. Logical, yes? Well it also helps create structure when viewing a page without styles, or when listening to a site through a screen reader. There’s an entire set of styles in CSS dedicated solely to audio cues, and oral stylesheets to further emphasize various points. has an excellent list of all of them with examples, and it’s one of the first websites that I saw that got me thinking about Accessibility.

The next step is Javascript. Most people have DOM-ready Javascript engines in their browsers, which has done a lot for consistency in Javascript. However, not everyone supports Javascript. I turn it off occasionally to save bandwidth (when I’m tethered to the web through my phone), and some browsers on cell phones have truly limited Javascript support, if any at all. Maybe one day, Javascript will be everywhere, and supported consistently, but until then, it’s important to provide alternatives without it. For example, this site has a Javascript version of my web page portfolio and a non-Javascript version. I posted earlier about some code that intelligently directs visitors to whatever their browsers support. But the important part is that there is pretty much no Javascript requirement for a useable site.

One of the next steps in Accessibility is image-free accessibility. Everybody downloads images, right? Wrong. Screen readers have to read the alt tags of images (as opposed to, say displaying them), and on occasion, I have chosen to disable images altogether as well to save bandwidth. This site is completely accesible if the viewer does not use images and does not use styles, but in the rare case that there is a user with styles but no images, this site is much tougher to use. I’m working on a solution, but it’s tough.

My point is that accessibility is pretty much in the small details. Quick tips like “Use a label for every input tag” are actually really valuable. There are plently of other tips I could ramble off, but there are articles in other places with specific tips. I’m focused mainly on accessibility as a concept that should be a part of everybody’s planning process. Maybe not everybody sees this as important, because accessibility is kind of for the “long end of the tail”, meaning very few people actually benefit from it. But it could happen to you. When I get older, I suspect I won’t be able to see as well, so doing things like building a design with a layout that is forgiving to text resizing will be important.

HTML accessibility is really easy to get the hang of. Knowing what tags represent what kinds of text is important. The tools exist on the Internet already and we as content creators should use them.

Tags: ramblings


The site isn't done until it renders well in Lynx. :-P

BTW: Didn't realize it was a partial feed. I'd prefer a full feed, but at least end the first paragraph with a [...] or [Read More]
Kenneth Finnegan on September 13th at 9:34 PM
Well, it wasn't a partial feed on purpose. Yeah, I'm 100% in favor of full feeds, as well.
Zach Margolis on September 14th at 1:20 AM
Woah nelly, how about them appels!
Kert on August 23rd at 10:23 AM
rK54Vj , [url=]pceqpyoicdjj[/url], [link=]svgjkofmkicm[/link],
lvpjrzszas on August 24th at 10:41 AM

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