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[media] WAI guidelines yield the highest probability of true Web access

From: Kathleen Anderson <kathleen.anderson@po.state.ct.us>
Date: Tue, 24 Oct 2000 12:47:37 -0400
Message-ID: <003401c03dda$1d63d2a0$e924f79f@STATE.CT.US>
To: "wai-ig list" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
http://www.infoworld.com/articles/op/xml/00/10/23/001023opsavvy.xml

WAI guidelines yield highest probability of true Web access

INFOWORLD, October 23, 2000

CLINT EASTWOOD had his day in court last month. A jury ruled he would not
pay damages to a disabled woman claiming his Carmel Mission Ranch violated
the Americans with Disabilities Act, but it did cite him for two minor
violations. After Dirty Harry makes these repairs, he may look into the
accessibility of his Web site properties.

Web accessibility for the disabled is gaining momentum and awareness. Just
last year, America Online was sued by advocates for the blind because the
ISP didn't provide access to meet their special needs.

To help Web developers, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) produced a set
of guidelines for Web content accessibility (www.w3.org/TR/WAI-WEBCONTENT).
Looking through the guidelines, I found a working set of best practices that
take into account the variety of environments from which our visitors
experience our sites.

The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) guidelines support two themes for
accessible design. First, "ensuring graceful transformation," which means
pages remain accessible given different operating environments and
conditions. The key to graceful transformation is a separation of content,
structure, and presentation. XML is a great technology to achieve this goal.
Remember, content is what you say to visitors, structure is how it's
organized, and presentation is what it looks like.

The second theme focuses on "making content understandable and navigable."
So much of that is simple, straightforward language. But it also means
providing tools for easy maneuvering around the site.

Although themes are great, the beef of the WAI is in the list of 14
guidelines and associated checkpoints. Even though some of the checkpoints
may seem extreme and would render 99.9999 percent of the Web in violation,
they are useful to understanding what will yield the highest rate of
accessibility.

Although I've listed the guidelines below (and have commented on them), I
still recommend you visit the WAI site yourself.

1. Provide equivalent alternatives to auditory and visual contents. Go to
town with the Alt tag.
2. Don't rely on color alone. Focus on contrast.
3. Use markup and style sheets and do so properly. All those absolute units
will go to relative units.
4. Clarify natural-language usage. GRAU (Guaranteed to Reduce Acronym Use).
5. Create tables that transform gracefully. Tables for layout equals NO-NO.
6. Ensure that pages featuring new technologies transform gracefully. Lose
your style sheets and see what happens!
7. Ensure user control of time-sensitive content changes. Auto-refreshing
your pages? Think again.
8. Ensure direct accessibility of embedded user interfaces. Scripts and
applets should work for ALL devices.
9. Design for device-independence. Allow the client to do it all.
10. Use interim solutions. No more pop-ups!
11. Use W3C technologies and guidelines. What about Flash?
12. Provide context and orientation information. Every frame should have a
title.
13. Provide clear navigation mechanisms. Too obvious -- make sure all
navigation tools are consistent, search works, and don't forget the site
map.
14. Ensure that documents are clear and simple. Headings are a must. Keep it
simple and leave the jargon behind.


Finally, try the Bobby utility located at www.cast.org/bobby to check your
pages for accessibility.


***************************
Kathleen Anderson, Webmaster
Office of the State Comptroller
55 Elm Street
Hartford, Connecticut   06106
voice: 860.702.3355 fax: 860.702.3634
e-mail: kathleen.anderson@po.state.ct.us
URL: http://www.osc.state.ct.us/
URL ACCESS: http://www.cmac.state.ct.us/access/
Received on Tuesday, 24 October 2000 12:48:20 GMT

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