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Re: Cascading Style Sheets for web accessibility

From: David Woolley <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
Date: Sat, 4 Mar 2006 11:04:51 +0000 (GMT)
Message-Id: <200603041104.k24B4qm03217@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

> 1. How much the CSS based sites are more accessible compare to the web sites 
> designed in HTML?

CSS has no accessibility benefit for sites that use HTML properly, except
in as much as visually appealing sites may make it easier for people
to read them.

The reason that sites using CSS are more likely to be accessible in
practice is  because people who use CSS are more likely to understand how
HTML was supposed to be used.  The real problem is that people who don't
use CSS generally attempt to use HTML to control appearence, without
regard to the meaning of the content (this was exacerbated because, in
the early days, Netscape pandered to that market by adding elements like
font and attributes like color and removed the corresponding capabilities
from the browser configuration).

There is, however, a lot of use of CSS by people who don't understand
HTML, but want to be fashionable, and the HTML style atttribute makes
it a little too easy to directly simulate font elements, and therefore
continue bad practices in a politically correct vocabulary.

> 2. Is the CSS recommendable to design  web site for accessibility? if yes 
> how?

CSS is reccommended for the design of visually appealing web sites.
In theory, it is reccommended for the design of sites which are appealing
in non-visual media, but support for this is virtually non-existent and
authoring for it even less so.

Most people who commission web sites consider being visually appealing
much more important than the content or accessibility, so CSS allows
HTML to be abused less and results in the accessibility of those sites
being less compromised, by the primary design goals.

> 3. Is the Cascading Style Sheets would b easy to learn by blind person?

As speech style sheets and braille style sheets are effectively
unsupported, a blind author is unlikely to be able to perceive the impact
of either abusing HTML or using style sheets to obtain a particular
visual effect.  Simply writing HTML properly should make the result as
accessible to sighted users as it is to blind ones.

I guess that someone who is recently blind might be able to imagine the
visual appearence and use visual style sheets more effectively.

There are also two HTML attributes, one of which is often erroneously
assumed to be solely for use with CSS, that a blind author can and should
use to make it easier to add CSS, or to make the document conform to
style guidelines that have already been established.  These are class=
and id=.  class= can be used to refine the exact purpose of an element
of the document structure, e.g. that a division contains site branding
information, or that a strongly emphasized item is so emphasized because
there is a risk of damage or injury.  Good use of class= depends on
it being used consistently, and on its not being used as a substitute for
more specific HTML element types.  id= can be used to indicate elements
of the document that need styling on a one off basis.

> 4. Where do I get material to know about CSS?

Received on Saturday, 4 March 2006 11:04:58 UTC

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