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Constructing Accessible Web Sites

timothy posted more than 11 years ago | from the conclusions-to-leap-to dept.

News 301

actiondan writes: "Constructing Accessible Web Sites is about how to build websites that can be used by people who rely on assistive technologies to browse the web. When I picked up this book, accessibility was an area that interested me but I am now convinced that it should be in the thoughts of every web developer. Some of the laws that are emerging to regulate accessibility look positively scary and there are lots of other good reasons to take accessibility seriously." Read on for the rest of his review.

What does the book cover?

Chapter 1 is an introduction to web accessibility. I would guess that most people who pick up this book will already know at least a little bit about accessibility, but this chapter provides a good overview and presents some compelling arguments for providing accessible websites. Interestingly, none of these is based on a moral argument -- they are all sound reasons why it is in the interests of an organization to think about accessibility. For example, one of these sections mentions that people with disabilities in the U.S. are estimated to control a discretionary income of over $175 billion. Making a site accessible to these people gives it access to an additional market that non-accessible sites cannot tap.

This first chapter sets the tone for the whole book. It doesn't preach about accessibility for the sake of people with disabilities but rather seeks to convince the reader that accessibility is in their interests.

Chapter 2 concentrates on one of the major reasons for making web sites accessible - laws that compel us to do so. It presents an overview of the state of the law in different parts of the world and a couple of examples of cases involving web usability. I have to admit I skimmed this chapter, as I wanted to get on to the technical stuff.

In Chapter 3, the book gets on to the mechanics of accessibility -- assistive technologies. It provides a short survey of the screen readers and other technologies that are available. I would have liked to have seen more information here on how widespread these systems are, even if just approximate.

Chapter 4 is where the book starts talking about the actual work involved in creating accessible content. It runs down the basics of accessibility (most of it is good practice such as using ALT text and so on). The blink tag even gets a mention and a "good for them!" is given to Opera for not supporting it :) This chapter will not be news to anyone who has done any accessibility work (or even just best-practices web development). The information on how tables are handled by screen readers is good though.

Chapter 5 looks in more detail at navigation. The advice here is good even outside of an accessibility context and there are some good points about 'gotchas' that could make sites difficult to navigate with assistive technologies.

In Chapter 6, input gets the same treatment that navigation got in the last chapter. I wasn't sure about the stuff on PDF forms (does anyone actually use these for web input?) but the advice on HTML forms was great.

Chapter 7 is about testing for section 508 (of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act) compliance. Initially, this was another chapter that I skimmed, as I am not based in the U.S., but then I realised that the testing advice in this chapter is not just useful for section 508 compliance -- it is useful for general accessibility testing.

Chapter 8 studies the accessibility of web development tools themselves. This doesn't apply to me but it was interesting to see how the tools (Dreamweaver, Frontpage, GoLive, Homesite and BBEdit) compare in terms of usability. This would have been a lot easier if there had been a summary table of the ratings given to the applications.

Chapter 9 seemed a little out of place. It is on "Separating Style from Presentation" and basically looks at CSS. I'm sure most people picking up this book will, like me, not need to be taught CSS basics. I skipped the chapter and very nearly missed an interesting little section on aural stylesheets.

I was surprised that chapter 10 was devoted to Flash, as I expected that Flash coverage in an accessibility book would be limited to a few paragraphs lambasting Macromedia for creating such an inaccessible technology. Well, it turns out that the new version of Flash supports accessibility much better than previous ones. This chapter was a real eye-opener for me. Clearly there is more work to be done but well done to Macromedia for putting accessibility support in!

Chapter 11 didn't really interest me much -- it seems to be more aimed at people who need to implement an accessibility strategy, one to hand over to managers once the technical content of the book is digested.

Chapter 12 is a bit of a heads-up on newer technologies and how they affect accessibility. There is some brief but decent discussion of how technologies such as SVG support accessibility.

The last actual chapter, Chapter 13, is a more in-depth look at U.S. web accessibility law. This was another one that I skimmed but one section did catch my eye. There is a discussion that raises the scary idea that web developers may be held liable for inaccessible web sites, even if their client told them to ignore the issue. If this is true, then it is an important point for every web developer to consider -- could you be held liable?

There are three appendices in the book; a quick reference guide summarises the most important advice given in the book, a glossary of terms and an appendix that details the U.S. Section 508 legislation.

Conclusion

Apart from the basic CSS coverage and the more U.S.-specific sections, I found the vast majority of the information in the book to be very interesting to me. The style was good too -- I was surprised that a book with 8 authors manages to maintain such a consistent and readable tone throughout.

Overall, I found the book a much more interesting read than I was expecting it to be. It gives specific advice about the way web sites should be constructed with accessibility in mind and offers strong arguments for following the advice.

It seems that accessibility is going to be a fact of life in web development. That being the case, every web developer needs to learn at least something about it, if only to use as ammunition in interviews. I would definitely recommend Constructing Accessible Websites as a good source of information on the area.


You can purchase Constructing Accessible Web Sites from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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301 comments

Don't click on Slashdots book link (-1, Informative)

RedWolves2 (84305) | more than 11 years ago | (#4452992)

bn.com has the book for $39.99. Amazon has it for $34.99 [amazon.com].

Save yourself some money!

Re:Don't click on Slashdots book link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4453030)

Bookpool [bookpool.com] is even cheaper

Don't click on RedWolves2 book link (3, Informative)

theduck (101668) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453080)

Other vendors typically have it for less than Amazon. Go to Dealtime [dealtime.com] and use their book price comparison engine to get the best price. In this case, they report [dealtime.com] that Walmart has it for $31.49 [walmart.com]. And if you provide your zip code, they can compare prices including shipping.

And, of course, there's always half.com [ebay.com] for used books.

Re:Don't click on theducks book link (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4453125)

Can a guy with a bill really be trusted?

Re:Don't click on Slashdots book link (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4453096)

I have BIG FLOPPY MANBOOBS and I will SLAP you in the FACE with them!!! FEEL my erection!

my name's bob (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4453106)

bob has bitch tits

Re:Don't click on Slashdots book link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4453107)

Really that's funny you say that because I seriously heard on the radio on my way into work that 1500 men die of breast cancer every year. You better be checking for lumps.

MOD THIS BUTTMUNCH DOWN (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4453122)

Look at that link. This guy's just trying to get himself some Amazon referral bucks. Screw you, Ralph Whitbeck.

Re:MOD THIS BUTTMUNCH DOWN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4453174)

Look at slashdots they are doing the same thing!

Stephen King, author, dead once more at 55 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4452994)

I just heard some sad news on talk radio - Horror/Sci Fi writer Stephen King was found dead in his Maine home this morning. There weren't any more details. I'm sure everyone in the Slashdot community will miss him - even if you didn't enjoy his work, there's no denying his contributions to popular culture. Truly an American icon.

bling bling (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4452996)

woot woot woot woot woot woot woot
click here [goatse.cx]

Another shitty book review (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4453001)


Wow.

Be still my beating heart.

Lemme guess... (1, Redundant)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453008)

No javascript oxdung...

No flash crap...

No blazing colours...

Hmmm. Looks like a lot of web "designers" will be pissed!!!! And out of a job when their bosses read the book!!!!

Re:Lemme guess... (2)

macdaddy (38372) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453026)

No tables.

No frames.

Highly descriptive ALT tags on everything, even spacer images.

The list just goes on.

Re:Lemme guess... (2, Informative)

Eeeeegon (71595) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453205)

Tables are fine; it's NESTED tables that give some browsers fits.

BTW, the W3C HTML validator [w3.org] checks out your code and will tell you what's not standard. To make sure your code is syntactically correct, make your page XHTML 1.0 compliant, and you'll be in good shape. (XHTML requires many of these 'optional' attributes, like 'alt' attributes for images, and closing 'p' tags, etc. It's very handy; it makes your code cleaner, and it turns HTML into an XML document.)

HTML is not coding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4453304)

Maybe encoding, but not coding.

Re:Lemme guess... (4, Interesting)

nogoodmonkey (614350) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453069)

I know it won't happen, but I hope that all web developers stop using Flash. It is the worst idea ever thought of (next to Netobjects Fusion) for the mere fact that you can't go back or forward in the webbrowser.

Truthfully, I am surprised that Macromedia hasn't had a lawsuit filed directly against them for Flash files not being parsable by accessability readers. But then again, its all the web developers fault! :-)

Re:Lemme guess... (5, Informative)

cheezycrust (138235) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453256)

Actually, the newest Flash version has capabilities for disabled people. the Nielsen Norman Group [nngroup.com] helped them in adapting the product for different target groups.

The latest Alertbox [useit.com] of Jacob Nielsen talks about Making Flash Usable for Users With Disabilities - also the subject of a tutorial [macromedia.com] at Macromedia DevCon [macromedia.com] in Orlando.

Re:Lemme guess... (5, Insightful)

dnoyeb (547705) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453187)

Why should a book have more authority than the US Government? Accessiblility has been LAW for some time now. Just because you ignore it does not mean its legal to do so.

My mother is legally blind and I help her with windows usage often. Frames can be done if the Author is concious of what he/she is doing. But trash such as right clicking to save a page and the page not saving because its appearing through some deep linkage garbage is terrible. Screen readers can not dig through all that garbage.

The days when we all use HTML editors to do our websites were much kinder. Now that we use non-html tools, the generated code is quite a mess but no one cares. YOu used to be able to even read a web page through telnet. You can forget it now.

Hes right on all the flash TV Wannabe jibberish. But you can always have 2 sites. In stead of frames / non-frames, go Standard, or accessible. An accessible site can be BLAND and just a list of links and pages such as generated by TUX> or whatever that linux html generator thingy is.

Glad to see this. M$ has been bullsitting on Accessibility for ages. Though they are far ahead of Linux.

The LAW (5, Insightful)

Andy Social (19242) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453337)

The law doesn't apply to private sites. There is a section of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 508, that addresses web accessibility. Section 508 applies to any site that receives government funding.

However, there is a reasonable expectation that web sites won't exclude a subset of customers. This is not being addressed through any criminal process, but through various civil cases brought against individual sites. One of the most famous, of course, was the Olympic site debacle, for two iterations of the Games. After the 2000 games site was sued for not having such basics as alt-tags or a text-based menu, the 2002 games committed the same mistakes. It's just good web design to allow your code to gracefully degrade, rather than break in anything but the newest and most-overloaded browser.

I know a bit about Section 508 because I've had to do web design for DoD the past several years. Many other DoD sites, I've noticed, claim compliance while using a Flash-based menu or Java applets for buttons. Clueless.

Re:Lemme guess... (1)

dpt (165990) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453274)

And out of a job when their bosses read the book!!!!

"When"?

Most already were out of a job when the bubble burst and everyone went back to whatever career path they had in 1996. Hence the misleading stats for computing related job-losses. How many of these are *really* computing, and how many just "putting up web pages", in most cases just lame filler while the MBAs searched in vain for a business model?

How many "web designers" do I know looking for work? Plenty. How many engineers, sysadmins, and so forth? Not one. Obviously, a skewed sample, but there it is.

I've really tried with my site (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4453018)

But I'm just not sure how to make porn accessible to the blind.

Re:I've really tried with my site (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4453061)

make a touch and feel site

Finally getting attention! (5, Insightful)

mong (64682) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453023)

This is a book I think I'll be ordering as soon as my next personal budget is approved. In fact, I think the boss will order it anyway.

We take this so seriously that we've now hired a blind guy, to ensure that all of our sites are accesible. It's quite amazing what I'd discovered within a month of working alongside him! I've been developing/designing for years now, and thought I was pretty good at alting my tags and commenting my forms... But he's really opened my eyes to how a few simple and quick practices can be adopted to make a BIG difference.

So I recommend books of this ilk (I've not read this one yet obviously). You really can't afford to ignore these matters anymore. Even if just to find out about blindness accessiblity... generally though, Nielsen is right; most sites have significant failings in these areas.

Buy it :-)

M.

Re:Finally getting attention! (5, Informative)

mong (64682) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453046)

I forgot to mention of course that in many EU countries, certain bodies (governement, education, , vendors, larger companies et al) MUST make at least the core functionality of their sites accessible to people with sensory disabilities. I'm not sure what the exact laws are, but if you develop for any of the above, and you don't do it right, you could end up in a lot of trouble!

Slashdot would *just* pass the basic test, I'm informed :-)

M.

Why buy the book... (5, Informative)

v4mpyr (185039) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453024)

when you can check your site for these guidelines on the web here [watchfire.com]?

Re:Why buy the book... (5, Informative)

cheezycrust (138235) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453175)

Why read the HTML 4 specs [w3.org] when you can validate [w3.org] your page?

Re:Why buy the book... (2, Insightful)

v4mpyr (185039) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453247)

Exactly! I, like most people, learn by doing, not by simply reading a book. Bobby is nice because it not only tells you exactly what is "wrong" but also gives informative explanations as to why it is wrong and how to go about fixing it.

Can't get interactive help like that from a book. :)

Re:Why buy the book... (1)

cheezycrust (138235) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453278)

Er... I was trying to be ironic...

I prefer to do both - learn a bit, then check what I created. You can't just start on a page without knowing your possibilities (what tags exist, how they work in other browsers), and you'll save yourself a lot of trouble in the long run. I can validate (X)HTML pages by myself now, so I eliminate most errors.

crazy laws (5, Interesting)

tmark (230091) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453031)

Some of the laws that are emerging to regulate accessibility look positively scary

These laws are not only scary, they are crazy. If serving people with disabilities is so important, then I'll do it, because it makes financial sense for me to do so. But if these people are largely irrelevant to my target market (say, I run a website for bird-watchers or target-shooting enthusiasts - should I be obligated to put up a version readable by vision-impaired people ?), I should have the right to ignore this segment of the market - at my own peril, of course.

If they're going to legislate me into putting in 'assistive technology' into my websites, why don't they force magazines to put out Braille versions, or make them supply audio-cassettes or CDs with the contents transcribed ? Why don't they widen airplane and car and bus seats so morbidly obese people can sit in them ?

Re:crazy laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4453110)

The answer is obvious: FREEDOM
Ever since the time when---legally at least (if
not in actual practice)---we had some freedom,
they have been trying to legislate it away, make
it illegal. Who are THEY? YOU and ME, everytime
one of us snivels about something we dont like
and lend any support to a legal solution (i.e.,
a coercive solution).

Re:crazy laws (4, Interesting)

macdaddy (38372) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453126)

Or you're the DMV and you have a website dedicated to folks wanting to get their license. What about a website for people wanting to learn to fly? The ADA laws can't be applied to everyone, can it? It just doesn't make sense.

Re:crazy laws (5, Interesting)

vrmlguy (120854) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453182)

I can't speak for every state (or country!), but in Missouri, the DMV handles not just licenses, but also ID cards for people who don't want or can't get a license. So, if you're blind, over 21, and want to buy a beer, you need to deal with the DMV.

As for learning to fly, partial deafness is a disability that's covered by the ADA. If a learning-to-fly website had a lot of sound effects, it could make the site unusable to potential pilots.

Re:crazy laws (2)

danheskett (178529) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453384)

The ADA has already been used to force companies to rehire a drivers, pilots, and policemen fired for extremely poor vision [manhattan-institute.org], to force professional golf to modify it's rules to allow people to ride in a cart rather than walk [accessiblesociety.org], and to force fitness centers to hire obese people as instructors.

The list of problems with the ADA are great, as are the good things it has accomplished.

The ADA is often blindly applied, without perspective or logic.

Obesity (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4453136)

They don't have to accomodate for obesity because it is not a disability. People born blind have no choice. People who refuse to excersise and who snack while they watch tv have a choice. True, it's genetic in some cases, but in general, obese people are that way because they don't take care of their bodies. Unlike blind people, they have a choice.

Re:crazy laws (5, Informative)

Masem (1171) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453151)

In general, it's very easy to create a site that is accessible from the start, and takes more work to make it inaccessible (eg, adding JS navigation).

Adapting existing sites, on the other hand, can be troublesome. If the site was designed well from the start that certain elements are modulized, adaption to accessibity should be near trivial. However, those sites that build every page uniquely will have a much harder time of getting to the end goal of accessibility. Particularly for those sites that were build by WYSIWYG editors that do not account for accessibilty options (such as tag-soup output engines).

But the key is here that there's two critical legal elements that will affect site accessibility in the States at least: Section 508 rules that apply to gov't sites and those that want to contract with it, and the potental requirement of accessibility to those commercial sites that may be covered by the ADA (see the recent stories on lawsuits against American and Southwest Airlines by blind users). Hobbists', non-commercial, or otherwise personal web sites have yet to be concerned for accessibility and I don't believe they ever will be, as these provide no required service to the general public.

That's not to say that you shouldn't think about accessibility if you run that type of site. Accessibility is not only about making your site available to more people, but it's also about better web design in general; seperate presentation from content, don't treat the browser as a pixel-perfect rendering engine, and the like. A causal site design would certainly do no harm in converting an inaccessible site to one that is, and that could mean more visitors and also improving one's HTML/web page skills.

Re:crazy laws (3, Interesting)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453155)

If they're going to legislate me into putting in 'assistive technology' into my websites, why don't they force magazines to put out Braille versions, or make them supply audio-cassettes or CDs with the contents transcribed ? Why don't they widen airplane and car and bus seats so morbidly obese people can sit in them ?

IANAL, but...

I believe that the standard for disability is something like "resonable effort for reasonable access." Things like ramps for stores, and magazines printing out braile versoins if they can afford to do so.

Don't take my word for it, but if you get a complaint about someone wanting to force you to make brail-versions of your bird-watching website, check with a lawyer if you can't come to a compormise; I suspect that you'd be able to tell the angry blind man to go away if it requires unreasonable effort to accomodate their wishes.

Re:crazy laws (1)

pamar (538061) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453173)

These laws are not only scary, they are crazy. If serving people with disabilities is so important, then I'll do it, because it makes financial sense for me to do so. But if these people are largely irrelevant to my target market (say, I run a website for bird-watchers or target-shooting enthusiasts - should I be obligated to put up a version readable by vision-impaired people ?), I should have the right to ignore this segment of the market - at my own peril, of course.

If they're going to legislate me into putting in 'assistive technology' into my websites, why don't they force magazines to put out Braille versions, or make them supply audio-cassettes or CDs with the contents transcribed ? Why don't they widen airplane and car and bus seats so morbidly obese people can sit in them ?
Note that (at least from what I have seen here in Europe) the accessibility requirement is mandatory for public services sites only.
You are not forced to support blind "customers", but if you are, say, the webmaster for some government site, you are required to assist blind "citizens" to know what laws apply to them, for example.

I understand your position, but please do not equate citizens with customers.

Re:crazy laws (5, Insightful)

henben (578800) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453217)

If they're going to legislate me into putting in 'assistive technology' into my websites, why don't they force magazines to put out Braille versions, or make them supply audio-cassettes or CDs with the contents transcribed ? Why don't they widen airplane and car and bus seats so morbidly obese people can sit in them ?

Because for Web technology, the extra costs of making your site accessible are trivial, and have lots of additional benefits, like making it accessible to sighted people browsing from PDAs, cellphones and WebTV.

Re:crazy laws (5, Interesting)

vrmlguy (120854) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453219)

There are many bird-watchers who are blind. How do they do it? They listen to the birds, identifying them by their songs. If you are a small publisher, then the laws will exempt you, but all it takes is one dissatisfied customer to poison your good-will.

Many books and magazines are available on tape. I know, my wife is a reader for college textbooks. I also recall several years ago, someone sued to get Playboy on tape. He was blind and really did "just read it for the articles".

Re:crazy laws (2)

dnoyeb (547705) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453228)

And should you be allowed to choose who desires to read your website. Many people can be legally blind but Bird watchers. What about the people with the degenerative diseases? Who was a bird watcher all his life and contributed to the community all his life, but now he can't even read the website that quotes his work profusely.

If given the choice, everyone will say they don't serve the blind simply because nobody is really targeting the blind for their produce unless its a specifically blind aide product...

Re:crazy laws (5, Insightful)

kamasutra (172848) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453235)

I spent seven months doing civil service for Slovenian association of blind people and it was a really eye-opening experience.

First, and less important, bird watching and target-shooting are among hobbies of blind people. Yes, I was surprised to learn that too. Bad examples, but I know what you mean.

Second, I do understand your point, but think about this from different perspective. There are around 7000 registered people who are either blind or visually impaired in Slovenia, which has a population of 2 million. How many would be willing to spend time and money to make sites accessible for them? I can even give you an answer to this, because lacking legislation that USA has in this regard, the answer is pretty much noone does.

I believe it's important for society that nobody is a second class citizen. Sometimes this means that majority of us have to make some effort for that. And if sensibility of public is not enough, than it's good if there's at least legislation to push us all in the right direction.

Only Government Sites Affected By Laws (2)

goldspider (445116) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453270)

I think the submitter is a little mistaken; as far as I know, only government sites MUST be compliant with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act: Section 508).

I agree with the parent post which asserts that it would be crazy to force accessibility upon private owners. And for the reasons he gives and more, I believe that's why Section 508 does not apply to private websites.

Re:crazy laws (2, Informative)

MrAtoz (58719) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453283)

If they're going to legislate me into putting in 'assistive technology' into my websites, why don't they force magazines to put out Braille versions, or make them supply audio-cassettes or CDs with the contents transcribed ?

Well, in a way "they" do. Under the US copyright law, publishers are required to allow agencies serving people with disabilities to produce accessible versions of their books without charging royalties. Thus, for example, organizations like Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic [rfbd.org] can freely produce audio textbooks for distribution to students with print disabilities.

And there's more on the way. A bill has been introduced into congress (the Instructional Materials Accessibility Act) that will take this further, requiring textbook publishers to provide electronic text files in a uniform format for use by agencies that produce Braille and audio books for students with disabilities.

Re:crazy laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4453305)

these crazy laws are in place to protect us from crazy people like you. you have no idea what handicapped people are capable of, which is the entire point of the law. imagine a mountain bike parts manufacturer thinking that blind people don't need access to his site. little does he know there are blind mountain bikers [teambat.org]. there are also blind shooting clubs, and blind baseball leagues.

people second guessing the limitations of the handicapped was the reason for the law. they're going to force you to stop.

This book will be very good! (2, Interesting)

Kyundrion (615194) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453040)

My dad has a good friend that has some sort of degenerative disease that makes his fingers and toes decay, and also makes his vision fade very quickly. A book like this will help people to write websites that he can access too. He has a screen reading device that reads the screen to him, and he also has a small touch pad that he enters morse code to enter keystrokes. He can "type" almost as fast as some non-afflicted people that I know! But, anyways, I think that this book will be very good for any webdesigner out there that is willing to look out for people like him.

Re:This book will be very good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4453186)

Degenerative disease that makes his fingers and toes decay? That's generally what we here in the 21st century call leprosy!

Make sure he doesn't fall asleep on any tennis rackets, or he'll slip right through it! Also avoid hammocks and hard to see security doors.

HTML 5 (1)

Trusty Penfold (615679) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453049)


I think that there are some new accessibility standards in HTML 5. Mozilla should support them quite quickly once the standard is released - I hope it is soon.

Re:HTML 5 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4453064)

Do you mean XHTML?

Re:HTML 5 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4453078)

What's HTML 5?

Re:HTML 5 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4453089)

I'm pretty certain that HTML 5 will never be seen - XHTML is possibly what you're refering to? I'm not quite sure, but wasn't HTML 5 a mostly vapour progression from HTML 4?

http://www.w3c.org/MarkUp/

I could be totally wrong, as I've not really kept up to date for a while.

M.

Re:HTML 5 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4453102)

There will be no HTML 5. It ended with 4.01 and everything coming now will be based on xHTML.

Does anyone else have a problem with this???? (3, Insightful)

mustangdavis (583344) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453053)

The last actual chapter, Chapter 13, is a more in-depth look at U.S. web accessibility law. This was another one that I skimmed but one section did catch my eye. There is a discussion that raises the scary idea that web developers may be held liable for inaccessible web sites, even if their client told them to ignore the issue. If this is true, then it is an important point for every web developer to consider -- could you be held liable?


Don't get me wrong, I think that web sites should be made to be accessible to everyone ... but being FORCED to make them accessible!! Isn't that going a little too far?? ... especially if a web developer is held liable even though his client said not to worry about it???!!??

Again, I don't want to sound like a big jerk here, but where does freedom of expression and freesom to create come into play here? If a person wants a "cool" looking web site, and uses features that don't follow the "code" ... or if they don't want ugly alt tags popping up all over their site when people put the mouse over a pic .. that should be their right!

However, since I am a web developer, maybe I should pick up a copy of this book to keep up on the laws on this issue .... (but I'll allow the review of this book determine if I purchase THIS book)

Are there any other good books out there that have similar content?? - anyone???

Re:Does anyone else have a problem with this???? (5, Informative)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453141)

Nope, you miss the point.

This isnt about your personal website, this isnt about your blog, or your Sailor Moon fan fiction.

The key here is if you run a venture that is designed as a place of *public accomadation*, then it must be accessable to all the *public*. That's the key word.

If you sell products or offer services, everyone needs to be able to access those products or services.

Ie; there's no law saying you need a wheelchair ramp on your home. If you run a restaurant, hotel, or other place of public accomodation, then there is.

The same rules about accessability coincide with good web design for the most part. Don't scan your paper catalog and serve a bunch of jpg files. Dont force people to chase down one of those stupid javascript adverts that blocks the page until you answer its poll, etc.

Re:Does anyone else have a problem with this???? (2, Insightful)

henben (578800) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453248)

don't want ugly alt tags popping up

Oh, come on. If this really bothered people, wouldn't browsers provide an option to disable it? How much time does the typical user spend mousing over non-navigation images anyway? This is exactly the sort of non-objection that creates the need for legislation.

Never understood until... (5, Insightful)

FreshMeat-BWG (541411) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453065)

I never understood this until I started using my television as a computer monitor. Even set at 640x480 with large fonts, so many web sites were still illegible thanks to hard coded font sizes, tiny images with no alt text, etc.

You can't really have an appreciation for accessibility until you need it. It is a good lesson for everyone designing web sites to really try to use them with their monitor turned off and with speech software or on a television screen from across the room.

If anyone cares about your website, then the content matters as much or more than how it looks on your monitor. Well, I guess except for pr0n.

Re:Never understood until... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4453123)

Stupid post! Welcome to the club! Do you work for Microsoft?

Boring Web (-1, Flamebait)

Gambit-x7x (537495) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453068)

if most web designers where following the rules made by ignorant and non artistic people web would be boring place...
would lose a lot of beautiful pages that build on breaking every rule of web design...

can you image every page looking the same... I can't...

Re:Boring Web (4, Informative)

aridhol (112307) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453154)

Web accessibility doesn't prevent beautiful pages. The Web Accessibility Initiative [w3.org] by the W3C has information on making web pages that degrade well. This means that you can have all the flash, Javascript, ActiveX, and everything else you want, and still let someone using Lynx and a screenreader hear what you have to say.

Re:Boring Web (3, Insightful)

henben (578800) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453178)

A lot of accessibility measures aren't going to cramp a designer's style at all. How exactly does adding ALT tags to images affect the design?

It's web designers who are ignorant of the correct use of CSS, and the importance of simple things like how to support non-Javascript browsers who think that accessibility means every page looking the same. It's nonsense.

You can make beautiful, accessible pages [alistapart.com] if you know what you're doing. A List Apart are hardly ignorant or non-artistic.

Does that look exactly the same as UseIt.com to you?

Re:Boring Web (3, Insightful)

swb (14022) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453280)

if most web designers where following the rules made by ignorant and non artistic people web would be boring place...

If most designers focused on usability as much as they focus on "artistic merit", the web would be a lot more legible.

I'm all for cutting edge design, but most web sites have an application function that gets lost in teeny-tiny type, hard-to-read color combinations and excessively busy animation.

Jumping Ahead (5, Insightful)

oddRaisin (139439) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453077)

It would be nice if the web were accessible to people using non-standard browsers in general. The number of Windows IE specific sites ( the Mac version of IE doesn't seem to be compatible ) out there, especially for major vendors, is sickening.

So instead of focusing on making the web accessible for people using alternate access methods, we should settle on a web standard. It would make the alternate methods that much easier to implement.

Blind users (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4453103)

Cannot appreciate porn properly, they should stay off the net!!! Whiney sightless fucks!

We don't nee more legislation (5, Insightful)

macdaddy (38372) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453105)

I don't intend to sound cruel to folks that are disabled. I feel for them, really I do. However I don't believe the way to convince webmasters to design universally accesible web pages is more draconian laws. We might as well put authors and publishers in jail for not printing their books in every possible language. Our webmaster is having a horrible time designing a Unv website that complies with the ADA requirements. It's truely a nightmare. Now privately held companies are being sued because someone can't visit their website? This is not right.

I think the way to go about writing univerally readable pages is to incorporate it into W3C HTML specs. I'm not saying eliminating all the things that aren't ADA compliant like javascript and tables. I talking about bringing the standard up to speed and making sure all browsers adhere to it strictly. If all browsers adhere to the standards very strictly then no non-compliant pages can be viewed with them. There's the incentive for webmasters to stick to the standards. Why are standards such an important thing? If everyone adhered to the standards, it would be infinitely easier to build tools for people with disabilities. Audio readers could parse the pages and read them back in an easy to understand way. ADA people could do what they need/want to do without pushing draconian requirements on to the rest of us.

Like I said before, I don't mean to sound like a hardass. I just don't see how the needs of the few could justify draconian legislation. If we could adhere to a standard, it would make things easier for everyone, not just handicap persons.

Re:We don't nee more legislation (3, Informative)

aridhol (112307) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453183)

I think the way to go about writing univerally readable pages is to incorporate it into W3C HTML specs
Although it isn't part of the HTML specs, the W3C does address the issue [w3.org].

Re:We don't nee more legislation (2, Interesting)

A.Soze (158837) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453229)

I think that a lot of people are missing the point made here. It is not private web designers that would be liable, nor would the companies who employ them. The standard, as it is now, just makes it mandatory for companies who wish to deal with the US government in their business. Following their own lead, as it were.

I wholeheartedly agree with the assessment that if all browsers followed standards, this wouldn't be as big an issue. And as for the ADA standards for web pages, I think you may be misinformed. Tables and scripting are not against ADA. The ADA simply lays down how these tools can be effectively used while not hamstringing screen readers and the like. For example, a table can be perfectly readable if you add an 'id' attribute to each tag and to each tag. I know that reworking legacy code could take years, but for new development this shouldn't be too terrible, right? Besides, aren't we moving to XML data and a transforming display layer anyway?

Hopefully for the *users*.. (5, Insightful)

wd123 (209211) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453145)

When I picked up this book, accessibility was an area that interested me but I am now convinced that it should be in the thoughts of every web developer. Some of the laws that are emerging to regulate accessibility look positively scary and there are lots of other good reasons to take accessibility seriously.

As a disabled person I hope people take accessibility seriously because there are disabled people who need or wish to use the internet as well. I have a permanent visual impairment and one of the worst things is websites that force a tiny font on you instead of respecting your browser's settings for what *you* need the fonts to be sized as. I really hope that people would design ther websites in such a way that both disabled and non-disabled can use them easily, and I know this is totally possible, and doesn't even require any great sacrifice on the part of the designer in having a nice looking site. Unfortunately, of course, I suppose most people won't bother until it becomes a legal requirement. Still it would be nice if they did...

Re:Hopefully for the *users*.. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4453267)

Fuck you, you fucking asshole. How entitled do you feel? You're a fucking jackass. If I am crafting a website, it is a piece of art. If I want the font to be a certain size or color, I'll fucking have it my way. Was Picasso told to make his paintings larger so that some genetic mistake could see them more easily? No, he was not. This is fucking bullshit. The government should let the artist have whatever freedom they need for crafting their work and not meddle in it. The artist can decide who he or she wants to cater to. Perhaps he or she wants to include fucking handicapped losers - I certainly wouldn't want to - but it's possible. When you mandate it by law, you take arts away from the artist and put it in the hands of government. And furthermore, there is not a need for you to use the Internet. I'm sure that you receive disability checks and are quite taken care of by my tax dollars. Therefore your only need is that fat check. Once that comes you've got food, clothing, and shelter. The Internet is not a need and having porno stories read to you is not a need you fucking assgoblin. (Moderator: Mod this down as flamebait, you fucking idiots. But you can see that I am making a good point.) In conclusion, fuck all blind people.

Re:Hopefully for the *users*.. (5, Insightful)

wd123 (209211) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453374)

I'm going to reply to bits and pieces of this, although it is an obvious troll, because I've heard this from people before and I'd like to dispel a few of the silly things that someone else might fall for.

Fuck you, you fucking asshole. How entitled do you feel?
I do not feel 'entitled'. I do feel that it is not too much to ask that people respect my browser's font settings. I've heard the same thing from plenty of people who are *not* disabled.

Was Picasso told to make his paintings larger so that some genetic mistake could see them more easily? No, he was not.
No, indeed he was not. However this is not a question of art (the laws at any rate are not). The question is one of useability in everyday places (such as business and government websites). You can do up your homepage however you like. If I find it horrid and unaccessible I will simply ignore it. However I think I should point out that nine times out of ten if I find a site unuseable most of my web-designer friends will concur. The "beauty" of websites is rarely seen in using tiny fonts.

When you mandate it by law, you take arts away from the artist and put it in the hands of government.
I wholeheartedly agree and would not dare ask anyone actually creating artwork for the sake of art to modify their work for me (or anybody else). But this isn't about art for the sake of art, it's about websites which people need to use for ordinary things such as shopping or researching governmental regulations.

And furthermore, there is not a need for you to use the Internet. I'm sure that you receive disability checks and are quite taken care of by my tax dollars. Therefore your only need is that fat check. Once that comes you've got food, clothing, and shelter. The Internet is not a need and having porno stories read to you is not a need you fucking assgoblin.
I think you will find that disabled people (such as myself) do *not* like being on disability. I'm not on disability, and I don't want to be. Those who I know that are on disability would much rather *not* be disabled and be able to do the things that others do (such as driving). Most people do not want to live on welfare.

I guess that the front of the bus is no good place for black people. I suppose that they don't NEED to be able to sit in the front of the bus. Black people certainly never needed the use of the facilities which others had and were not available to them. Don't think it's the same? I bet there are a lot of things available on the internet which are simply not available to people offline. I think everyone should have access to the *information* on the internet. Poor, rich, disabled, abled, whatever. The internet has a huge amount of promise for the world at large and making it useful to everybody seems very worthwhile.

Re:Hopefully for the *users*.. (5, Informative)

VargrX (104404) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453307)

I have a permanent visual impairment and one of the worst things is websites that force a tiny font on you instead of respecting your browser's settings for what *you* need the fonts to be sized as.


Then why do you let the html dictate what font's/fontsize you see?

In the 3 major browsers, its easy:

Moz: Edit|Preferences|Appearance|Fonts - choose your font's and typesize, and uncheck "Allow documents to use other fonts"

IE: Tools|Internet Options|General Tab - Fonts Button: Set your Fonts and typesize here|Accessablity button: check the 2 "Ignore font..." box's, or you can supply your own style sheet

Opera: File|Preferences|Fonts: there are too many options that you can control here, upto and including using your own style sheet.

It's not difficult for the end-user to do, or to have it done for them by a helper.

Just my .02

Re:Hopefully for the *users*.. (2)

intermodal (534361) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453369)

browsers have a "minimum font size" setting in most cases. I know Mozilla does, and I think IE has it hidden in there. You may want to consider looking into this. And for the crowd who only cares as to what group can see their page if it might apply to them, the way I see it, there are a lot more mobile devices these days that can use the internet, and most won't have a fancy browser. Therefore I make my pages at least navigable in Lynx as a guideline. While they're prettier in Mozilla, a good looking site can be made "readable" in other browsers if you use the right methods.

Ending Words (2, Insightful)

forged (206127) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453146)

"I would definitely recommend Constructing Accessible Websites as a good source of information on the area."

You hit the sweet spot here. The problem is, with the trend in websites today (all flash/frames/javascript), no-one care.

Betsie (5, Informative)

horace (29145) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453153)

This is how the BBC tackles this issue: Betsie [bbc.co.uk] It was simpler to handle things this way rather than expand rules for coding pages.

Simple Question (4, Interesting)

scott1853 (194884) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453169)

Why changes millions of webpages instead of making a few screen readers work better? It seems like spending billions of dollars throughout the country on upgrading everyones webpage isn't quite as effecient as spending a few million to research and develop some better OCR technology.

Re:Simple Question (5, Informative)

wd123 (209211) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453239)

Well most peoples' websites don't need to be changed. These laws are only for institutions offering public services. This isn't your blog, somebody's homepage, or anything like that. This is sites that everyone needs to access because they are pointed there in order to do business with a company, or work with a government agency.

I think a good compromise here would be what a lot of people did back when frames were all the rage. Simply offer a no-frills page for people who are disabled. You get to keep your flashy page for your regularly abled (hah) consumers, and those who need special access can get it.

Also, I don't personally use/need screen readers, what I do need is websites that do simple things like respect my need for larger fonts (that means flash is right out). A lot of websites don't do that, and until the last year or so I had to actually copy out the text I needed to read and paste it into something else. Now mozilla at least does text enlarging which makes my life a hell of a lot easier.

Re:Simple Question (3, Interesting)

NulDevice (186369) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453264)

Well, it's not so much the problem with screen readers - that's just it. How do you screen-read something that's blinking? Or screen-read a picture without any information about what it is? Or screen-read a lovely layout that is position-sensitive?

That's the issue - there are things that rely on visual cues, which just *can't* make the leap to screen-reading.

There are other problems too - screen-readers aren't the only devices used for accessibility, as the visually-handicapped aren't the only disabled people using computers.

There's a large number of issues to take into account, but frnakly none of them are too daunting to plan for. One can make a lovely and useful website that's fully s508 compliant as long as you're thinking about it in the deisgn phase.

And the DIV tag is your friend. :)

Re:Simple Question (2)

Reziac (43301) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453356)

I used to maintain a system that had a screen reader for its blind owner. At the time, a decent 486 cost about $2000. The screen reader (hardware and software) cost him another $4000. Not every blind person is on public assistance (read: YOU get to pay for this with your tax dollars).

I don't know what the current cost is, but that may be a serious stumbling block to getting all those old screen readers upgraded (assuming they CAN be made better).

If I were developing a screen reader, I'd probably look at making it a glorified OCR process, but that means a pretty fair chunk of hardware under it, and -- well, I have vision-impaired clients, and most are still running old 486s, because that's what they can afford (aside from that they don't need the horsepower to do anything beyond basic documents and basic browsing, and had enough trouble learning their current systems). So much for that idea!!

Save some time... (5, Informative)

toupsie (88295) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453170)

If you know how to design HTML pages*, you can save yourself a lot of time and effort by visiting W3C. They have a great HTML validator [w3.org] which will help you in your goal of accessable web pages. The NYC Public Library has a great page on making your web pages accessable [nypl.org].

* That doesn't mean using Dreamweaver or any other GUI HTML design software. Real HTML-ers write it by hand. Real Men use vi [thomer.com] from what I hear but I like BBEdit [barebones.com] for UNIX [apple.com].

Re:Save some time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4453252)

If you know how to design HTML pages*, you can save yourself a lot of time and effort by visiting W3C. They have a great HTML validator [w3.org] which will help you in your goal of accessable web pages.

Let's validate your website:
http://validator.w3.org/check?uri=http%3A%2F%2Fwww .seagullguitars.com%2Fintro.htm&charset=%28detect+ automatically%29&doctype=HTML+4.01+Transitiona l [w3.org]

OK. You're an idiot.

Re:Save some time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4453288)

HTML 4.01 transitional?

Pft. Real men use XHTML 1.0 Strict!

Re:Save some time... (1, Offtopic)

toupsie (88295) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453295)

OK. You're an idiot.

No, you're a dumbass. That is not my website. I like playing my Seagull guitar so I list them as my home page on Slashdot. To quote Gov. Jimmie Davis, "It makes me happy when skies are grey". Unfortunately, my playing is not as good as the make of these pretty instruments.

Morals Schmorals, It's the Market You Paraplegic! (5, Interesting)

meh237 (582408) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453198)

Interestingly, none of these is based on a moral argument -- they are all sound reasons why it is in the interests of an organization to think about accessibility. For example, one of these sections mentions that people with disabilities in the U.S. are estimated to control a discretionary income of over $175 billion. Making a site accessible to these people gives it access to an additional market that non-accessible sites cannot tap.

This first chapter sets the tone for the whole book. It doesn't preach about accessibility for the sake of people with disabilities but rather seeks to convince the reader that accessibility is in their interests.

Actually I think it more relates to ETHICS -- as it is dealing with one's profession -- but all the same. All the analogies other people have posted about how unfair these laws are and "why don't they make magazine publishers publish their magazines in Braile or spoken-word" are completely missing the point. Using a digital medium such as the Internet, it is easy to make your website easily accessible for persons with disabilities. Is it too hard to use the use of both your hands to enter in a few extra tags so that the Internet is "accessible to all!" You Slashdotters spuge yourselves when you think of how cheap it would be to put together free or close to free Linux boxes and ship them down to South America, yet your "creative expression"? is being denied by having to put in a few extra tags explaining the purpose of a picture. Give me a break you capitalistic freaks.

unfortunately (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4453199)

"...people with disabilities in the U.S. are estimated to control a discretionary income of over $175 billion..."

unfortunately, only 12 of them have computers

Let's get something straight (-1, Troll)

l33t-gu3lph1t3 (567059) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453241)

Not to whine or anything, but in /. we endlessly debate such things as CLIs and GUIs. PCs use human interfaces primarily based on hand-eye coordination. Accessibility? PFFT. There are some things that you simply can't do without your most primary of senses, vision. Can you play hockey blind? Didn't think so. Can you go to a ballpark and watch a baseball game? Didn't think so. I mean, blind people are *CRIPPLED*. Not "special needs", they're just *crippled*. When websites are sued for not being accessible to the blind, I just laugh my ass off. I mean seriously, a blind person can't even read a screen, yet this blind person complains when her or she can't surf the web? That's like complaining about being unable to drive. Web surfing is an act that blind people simply aren't capable of performing.

God, if this trend of politically correct stupidity continues, we will have porn sued for not having female curves that are readable in braille.

Blind people can lead rich, full lives. - in environments that don't require a dependancy on EYESIGHT. The net IS one of those environments.

Re:Let's get something straight (2)

aridhol (112307) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453373)

While I suspect you ov being a troll, I will respond to the last line of your message:
Blind people can lead rich, full lives. - in environments that don't require a dependancy on EYESIGHT. The net IS one of those environments.
The web should be one of those environments. It's not like it's particularly hard to do. Unless it's a photo gallery, the majority of your webpage content is (should be) text. Since you probably have images, just plain text won't do everything you want. That's where the 'ALT' attribute comes in to play. Those who chose not to use them are just plain lazy.

While there is more to accessiblity [w3.org] than using ALT tags, they are a start, and would probably improve the majority of pages on the web.

http://www.diveintoaccessibility.org/ (4, Informative)

ChrisMWage (158008) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453250)

This site was incredibly useful for me in making my website more accessible.

If you want to skip the reading (4, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453262)

Just make sure that your site is browsable with lynx [browser.org]. That's a pretty good indication that you've placed content and usability above presentation.

Hmm, I wonder how text-to-speech handles the <blink> tag?

link to text-only websites (1)

Traicovn (226034) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453289)

Maybe we should go ahead and start a fund to buy a copy of this book for Southwest Airlines ;)

All kidding aside though, as a general rule you can look at your website in lynx in my opinion to tell whether or not it is going to be accessible. I knwo this isn't the best way, but it's an option. Frames of course would be the biggest problem, however creating a text-only version of your website (many government websites have this) and putting the link somewhere near the top of your page is usually considered suitable. No graphics, flash, etc, but with most, or the same functionality of the original site, or at least a SUITABLE level...

Dive Into Accessibility (3, Informative)

palmech13 (59124) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453315)

Mark Pilgrim has a wonderful site at http://diveintoaccessibility.org/ [diveintoac...bility.org]

It's set up as a 30-day transformation process, with each day containing a new change. He includes has a few example characters, each with their own unique set of disabilities and/or web-browsing choices, and he explains how each of these people would benefit from said changes.

Wrong way to look at the problem. (2)

RobinH (124750) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453322)

I may be taking a simplistic view of this, but I've always thought it would be better to let people design buildings, web pages, whatever, however they wanted to, and then leave it to engineers to come up with products to allow accessibility for anyone who can't use the 'normal' methods of access.

Didn't the inventor of the Segway first make a wheelchair that could walk up stairs?

Unfortunately, these solutions are often expensive, but so are the widespread accessibility that is built into products nowadays. Either the company making the product has to pay, or we could subsidize the development and deployment of accessibility tools with a corporate tax. In essence, take the money that's going to be spent on making web pages accessible, and use it to develop and distribute more capable accessibility tools that can read normal web pages.

It's just a thought. I'm not saying it would work.

Some confusion on section 508, etc. (5, Interesting)

NulDevice (186369) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453347)

I've seen a lot of peole complaining about the guv'ment legislating their freedom of website-expression with section 508.

Well, there seems to be a bit of misunderstanding, and it would've been better had the reviewer mentioned this.

Section508 applies primarily to governmental websites. So if you're a .gov or a .state.us then it's likely you need to comply to section508.
If you're a federal or state contractor you may have to comply.

If you're not one of those things, do whatever you want.

However, it may still be in your best interests to at least consider accessibility. You may not necessarily comply with all the W3C priority 1,2, and 3 standards but a few of them isn't going to hurt, and are generally common sense. There's a huge market out there for the disabled - if you ran a brick-n-mortar shop you wouldn't turn away $175billion worth of your customers, so why do it on the web?

It's not like *all* of them are blind, deaf quadraplegics. I know people who use expanded fonts just because their eyesight isn't *great* - they're still legal to drive with glasses, but reading fine print on a screen necessitates assistance. Variable font-sizing and alt tags would suddenly open your website up to a lot of people just like that.

Basically, to help make a site more accessible it doesn't require much - start with your alt tags, maybe longdesc if you're feeling generous, try not to deisgn with 7 layers of nested tables, and use relative font sizes. Most sites won't even need to be fully overhauled to accomplish this, just tweaked, and it can open up the availability to hundreds of thousands more people.

It's not about being politically correct, it's not about avoiding lawsuits, it's about doing what's best for your website and delivering your content to the widest audience.

No info on dynamic visual data? (4, Informative)

kuwan (443684) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453349)

I'm surprised that there isn't a chapter on accessibility and dynamic visual data (charts and graphs, etc.). This is probably one of the most difficult things to do in creating an accessible site. Example: how do you get a description of those ever changing stock charts, or sales information? There are lots of data that are displayed graphically that also needs a description to be accessible, but there aren't many tools out there for creating that description dynamically. Corda [corda.com] seems to be one of the only companies that I've found that has a solution for this. Their tools will create a text description whenever you create a graph. Sure the description may not be the best, but most of the time it will do the job.

make designing more tricky? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4453360)

Accesibility is a right. The things addressed by these issues only force better web design practice. As a designer I want as many people to experience my work as possible and if one of the drawbacks of this is extra development time then so be it.

These accomodations usually help everyone (3, Insightful)

Insightfill (554828) | more than 11 years ago | (#4453380)

With few exceptions, I've usually found that accomodations to ADA laws (or just accessibility in general) often benefit everyone, not just those targeted.

Examples: Ramped entrances, curb cuts at intersections for sidewalks, large and clear print, low-sided bathtubs, hand-rails everywhere, wider wheelchair entrances, lower switches and controls on walls...

The list goes on, and of course there are exceptions of accomodations that are either counter to the needs of those not at benefit (or just annoying), but generally I've found that a well-designed web site or doorway helps everyone.
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"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
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