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Re: Useful Reference for 3.3

From: Jo Miller <jm@bendingline.com>
Date: Mon, 11 Mar 2002 14:15:50 -0500
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Message-id: <p0510140ab8b2adbba026@[]>
Thanks, Graham. This short document contains a lot of sound advice, 
presented clearly.

I keep thinking that a Techniques document walking web writers 
through the steps of content creation would be a very helpful thing. 
Advice could be offered for each stage in the process: planning, 
outlining, writing, editing, supplementing (with annotations, images, 
etc.), and perhaps testing and adjusting.

Excerpts from the Mencap document, re-sorted according to the steps 
in the writing process, could form the foundation for such a 
Techniques document. This guidance would be especially useful for 
people whose expect their sites to be visited by many people with 
learning disabilities, and also for people who are writing 

I'll paste the text below for anyone who couldn't view it.

Begin quoted text from http://www.mencap.com/download/webaccess.rtf

Making your web site accessible for people with a learning disability

The Internet has helped to change the way that people work and 
communicate.  But without more effort by web creators the 1.4 million 
people with a learning disability in the UK , who are likely to have 
low literacy and information technology skill levels, will never 
experience its benefits.  Everyone can find using the internet 
difficult, but for people with a learning disability it is even more 
of a challenge.

These guidelines are intended to provide help for web designers when 
developing their sites, to ensure that the web is truly accessible 
for all.

They support the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 
published by the Web Accessibility Initiative* (WAI), aimed at making 
sites accessible for all people with disabilities, and highlight the 
particular needs of people with a learning disability.

Worldwide, organisations have already been fined for failing to make 
their sites accessible to disabled people, so getting it right has 
become not just a moral issue but a legal one.

Designing a site with the needs of people with disabilities in mind 
will also help everyone who visits your site. 

Make sure your site makes sense to all.

The Basics

Making the words understandable

As a general rule, use clear and simple text (plain English) with 
short sentences, simple punctuation and no jargon.

Use headings, bullet points and summaries to make the main points clear.
Plan what you want to say.  Cut out unnecessary detail and present 
the important information in a logical sequence, one step at a time.
Try to write as you speak.  Don't use jargon, unnecessary technical 
detail or abbreviations.  If you need to use difficult words, include 
a 'dictionary' or 'list of useful words' to explain them.
Keep sentences short.  If you remember to have only one main idea per 
sentence this will happen naturally.  See if any sentences using 
commas or joined with 'and' could be broken in two.
Use simple punctuation.  Avoid semicolons (;), colons (:), hyphens 
(-), or sentences broken up with too many commas.
Use active and personal language.  Using 'you' and 'we' makes your 
writing more direct and understandable.
Be consistent. For important concepts, use the same words and phrases 
consistently even if it sounds repetitive.  For example, don't begin 
writing about 'the delegates' before using different words, such as 
'attendees' or 'participants', to describe the same thing.
Use images such as photos, drawings or symbols to support your text. 
Aim to make the subject of your material clear at a glance, even to a 
non- reader.  Place images that help explain the text next to (and 
not as a background to) the relevant words to make your meaning clear.
If a large number of visitors to your site are likely to be people 
with a learning disability, consider using computer software symbols, 
like Widgit or PCS.  For more information on using symbols, consult 
the Accessibility  unit at Mencap on 020 7696 5575 (site link).
When using images make sure the ALT text (Alternative text attribute) 
of the image tag conveys what is important or relevant about the 
image for people who might be accessing the page in a non-graphic way 
(e.g. text only, speech or braille).  For more information on making 
sites accessible for people with sight problems visit l.
Because Mencap's own site had to use lots of graphics and tables to 
help people with a learning disability, a separate site with the same 
content has been prepared using text only for people with sight 
If using animated graphics, make sure that they can be turned off 
easily to allow users to focus on the site content.
Consider the use of audio and video clips for those with low literacy 

Making the words easy to read

Use at least medium size text on each page, making sure you do not 
use absolute font sizes so that users can adjust their browsers to 
make text larger if needs be.
Use a clear typeface such as Arial or Univers without serifs.  If 
saving fonts as a graphic, avoid ornate fonts. Use plenty of spacing. 
Avoid capital letters, but do highlight important points in bold.
Use a ragged right edge (text aligned to the left) rather than 
centered or right justified as that makes it easier to read.
Used in the right way, colour on your site makes it more attractive 
and appealing for users. Make sure the colour contrast is strong 
enough. Avoid a heavily patterned background and don't use too many 
bright clashing colours which can be distracting. If you do not have 
a separate text only site for people with sight problems, allow the 
user to adjust the colour using their browser settings.
For people using assistive technologies such as braille or screen 
readers, sites must be written in a valid hypertext mark-up language 

Navigating the site

Carefully plan the layout of the home page so that it is immediately 
obvious what service or information is being provided. Avoid pop-up 
boxes or moving text that make the page difficult to concentrate on. 
Pages that are too busy can also confuse people and be distracting.
Include large, clear, home and help buttons on every page of the 
site, and in the same place on each page.
Use the same navigation bars in the same place on your pages, and a 
clear linear route through, so that users can become familiar with 
what other information is contained in the site 
Make it clear on the home page who you should contact if you are 
having difficulty accessing the site or need to contact the 
organisation by telephone or letter. An e-mail address is not 
sufficient if you are having difficulty using the Internet.
Ensure links through to other pages contain enough useful information 
about their destination and do not just say 'click here'

Testing the site

Ask a range of people with a learning disability to test your site 
for you.  You will quickly discover that things you had assumed were 
easily understandable can be confusing to people with a learning 
disability.  Mencap's Accessibility Unit runs focus groups and 
provides feedback to organisations who are keen to improve the 
accessibility of their information.  Call 020 7696 5575 for more 
information (link to website). 
Bear in mind that "Bobby" (www.cast.org/bobby/), the accessibility 
programme that can check your pages for compliance with the WAI Web 
Content Guidelines works automatically to check the technical aspects 
of accessibility and does not cover the language needs of people with 
a learning disability.  Feedback from a range of individuals will be 
more helpful to you.

Moving forward

Making the web truly accessible for all people with a learning 
disability is not easy, but simply using common sense will help. 
Mencap's own website - www.mencap.org.uk - has been extensively 
tested by people with a learning disability and although no site will 
ever be perfect, shows what can be done.


*The Web Accessibility Initiative ( www.w3.org/WAI/) is part of the 
World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) ().  The site contains full technical 
details for building accessible web sites.

End quoted text from http://www.mencap.com/download/webaccess.rtf


At 5:50 PM -0800 3/5/02, goliver@accease.com wrote:
>Making your web site accessible for people with a
>learning disability
>If you don't have the ability to see a rtf
>then try (warning very long url)
>AccEase Ltd : Making on-line information accessible
>Phone : +64 9 846 6995
>Email : goliver@accease.com
Received on Monday, 11 March 2002 14:16:24 UTC

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