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Re: Making Forums Accessible

From: Joachim Andersson <joachim.andersson@etu.se>
Date: Tue, 26 Aug 2008 14:25:39 +0200
Message-ID: <a92e08980808260525hbdf914di5f6cf30481e59433@mail.gmail.com>
To: tellyasmin@yahoo.com
Cc: "WAI Interest Group" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Generally it is not hard to make a forum accessible. Unfortunately,
solutions that are "ready to use" almost never conform to W3C technologies
and WAI recommendations. If you are building the forum yourself, the chances
are much better!

A few tips on the way.

Example: <label for="firstname">First name: </label><input type="text"
name="firstname" id="firstname" />

Always supply information on how a user should use your forms before asking
the user for information. E.g. tell the user how to use an input field
before asking him/her to type.

Example <label for="phone">Phone number (only digits, no spaces):
</label><input type...>

Then there's the question of threads in a forum. Always use <ul> (Unordered
lists) to convey information on levels. This applies to menu systems, forum
threads and many other things, where developers long have used indentation
with margin, padding etc, but haven't used markup to convey such structural

Nested lists are often incorrectly coded. This is the correct way to do it:
     <li>First list item, level 1</li>
     <li>Second list item, level 1
               <li>First list item, level 2 (child of level 1, item 2)</li>
               <li>Second list item, level 2 (child of level 1, item 2)</li>
     <li>Third list item, level 1</li>

Look at the end tag for the second list item, level 1. It ends after the
child ul and its li elements. This is what makes it a child object of the ul
level 1.

If you're using images (symbols or icons) in navigation through threads,
provide relevant alternative texts for those images, that are unique and
point to the actual part of a unique thread.

Remember to make forms unique, not only in id and name attributes, but also
(if more than one comment form is available on the same page) that buttons
do not just say "Reply" or "Comment", but "Reply to [subject of thread]".
This is very important, especially to visually impaired visitors.

Maybe these are tips you already knew about, but being a freequent visitor
of forums on the web I have noticed that these things almost never are built
according to W3C standards and recommendations. I hope it's useful in some

Best regards,

Joachim Andersson
Web Accessibility Consultant

2008/8/25 Yasmin Tabassum <tellyasmin@yahoo.com>

> Hello Everybody,
> I am building a website for a Charity for Disabled People. I am using
> joomla 1.5 and want to build a forum that is accessible. Unfortunately, I am
> having trouble in making the forum accessible.
> I am also having trouble in preventing unregistered users from creating
> blog entries.
> Could anyone please help me and guide me on these issues? I am grateful for
> any help.
> Many Thanks,
> Yasmin
Received on Tuesday, 26 August 2008 12:26:16 UTC

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