Practical, Entry-Level Web Accessibility

Posted January 15th, 2007 by Mike Cherim

Web accessibility can be a scary thing to get into, and being that starting any project can be the hardest part — the motivation comes before momentum — it was determined a solid place and plan to start, all while throwing out the rule book so to speak, is something some developers really need. Trying to master accessibility will prevent some from even attempting it, but it’s really an unnecessary obstacle as mastery isn’t needed to begin. We’re attempting to illuminate the easy path.

This article’s title was almost changed to “Accessibility without Checkpoints” which is something Mel Pedley coined, and it would be quite fitting; I just had to mention it because I was really torn. In the end it stayed as is, though, and the featured Accessites article is live.

This post, in case you’re wondering, is for collecting article comments.

11 Responses to: “Practical, Entry-Level Web Accessibility”

  1. Joe Dolson responds:
    Posted: January 15th, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    Nice article, Mike. It’s really doing a great thing emphasizing the importance of trying. Just progressively trying to improve a site, bit by bit…

    I’m sure you’re right that many people who’ve never given thought to accessibility and are new to tableless design, etc., are simply intimidated by the scope of the whole thing. Just have to encourage them to take that first step!

    Then we can shove them in the pool and see if they drown. ;)

  2. Georg responds:
    Posted: January 16th, 2007 at 4:56 am

    Well, I’ve never thought much of ’skip’ or ’skip to’ links, and probably won’t use them much. The rest of the article is what I would call “common sense” though, and covers the basics.

    What I often ask designers is: if they know how (at least) the major browsers work, so they can stress their designs a bit more than the average visitor in need of a slight correction tends to do. Turns out that only a limited number of designers know, or test with, even the most commonly used browser-options, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that so many sites fail even on an extremely basics accessibility-level.

  3. David Zemens responds:
    Posted: January 16th, 2007 at 10:32 am

    Thanks for another great article which I shall appropriately call “Accessibility 101″. I have learned a tremendous amount of information from your posts. I consider myself to be a very, very green website designer, perhaps in “kindergarten”, but I am pleased to say that am learning about accessible design and perhaps have graduated to “middle-school” in this area. Thanks again, Mike.

  4. Dave Buchholz responds:
    Posted: January 19th, 2007 at 6:55 pm

    Perhaps the most common sense article I have read on accessibility in some time, to many times authors lose sight of the wood for the trees in admonishing people to do this or that in the name of accessibility.

  5. Blog Posible responds:
    Posted: January 26th, 2007 at 6:02 am

    Consejos prácticos de accesibilidad web…

    …Uno de esos artículos que me gustaría escribir pero nunca empiezo, ya sea por falta de tiempo, de una correcta planificación de la estructura y el contenido, o porque existen artículos fantásticos en internet, es uno sobre accesibilidad web. Mi…

  6. Dennis responds:
    Posted: February 1st, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    Great article Mike. A few additional points: 1) Never use a link with “javascript:”–use unobtrusive Javascript and DOM scripting; 2) If linking to a PDF file, make sure to let the user know, either with the content itself, a Title attribute on the link, or an icon; 3) Provide a textual alternative to audio files; and 4) uses Tables for data tables–with caption, summary, table headers, and scope.

  7. Andrew Shapira responds:
    Posted: February 25th, 2007 at 8:53 pm

    Hi - very nice article. I couldn’t agree more with almost everything you say on the page where you introduce your WordPress theme. I’d like to add something about text resizing. Ideally, text resizing would in fact be unusual, as you say, because all sizes would be specified relative to the browser’s current text size setting, i.e., they would not use pixel widths like “12px”. All too often, web sites specify widths in terms of a number of pixels, or perhaps a point size. Web sites should avoid specifying absolute text size at all - they should strive to make all sizes relative to the browser’s current size. You mentioned accessibility as one reason for this. There is another reason that you have not mentioned - variation in monitor resolution and settings. My monitor is 1600×1200 pixel. With my monitor and monitor settings, a lot of web sites that use either sizes based on pixels (e.g., 12px) or sizes based on some other absolute unit will look too small, and all too often I cannot even resize the text and am stuck reading really tiny letters. On web sites that specify lengths that are all relative to the text size browser setting, the web site looks fine at more or less any resolution, and resizing is not necessary.

  8. Portland Web Design responds:
    Posted: February 27th, 2007 at 6:10 pm

    The variances between IE and Firefox and enough to drive anyone crazy.

Sorry. Comments are closed.

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