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Posts Tagged ‘accessibility’

At the first sight, a writer who is writing about the accessibility of the web sites, should be able to provide an accessible and straight presentation of his ideas. “Building Accessible Websites” by Joe Clark is a rather extended sequence of definitions and a minimum set of practical matters. Among the most detailed nonsense from the web site, I would particularly pick one from the Chapter 4 “What is Media access. So, referring to accessibility, Clark mentions:

What is accessibility?

Accessibility involves making allowances for characteristics a person cannot readily change.

It’s a simple, sweeping definition. Practical examples of its application to Websites:

  • A deaf person cannot stop being deaf when confronted with a soundtrack.
  • A blind person cannot stop being blind when confronted with visible words and images.
  • A learning-disabled person cannot reset the functions of the brain when confronted with the same.
  • A person with a mobility impairment cannot suddenly begin to move when confronted with a navigation task.
  • A unilingual anglophone cannot suddenly understand French when confronted with that language.

What do you think? I would say: it is either too simple to be genial or too genial to be simple. Furthermore, at a certain point when he wishes to grant a moment of respiro to his readers, Clark adopts the usual formula by which intellectuals instead of finding enemies within themselves, start to sought various scapegoats and obviously one of the most accessible scapegoats are the always invisible but inevitably present “bureaucrats and regulators”. Take a look here:

These broadcasting regulators, with their government imprimatur, have unfortunately muddied the terminological waters. I suggest you act smarter than these bureaucrats and stick to the only generic term, “audio description.

In Chapter 6 “The image problem”, Clark discusses the appropriate use of the alt text  for a comprehensive description of an image. He mentions that it is better to leave the image without any description than to give it a bad description. In this sense, he provides an example of the owner of an adult site , who described the content of his G-rated image as “lubricating.”

Nevertheless, one of the few important things, which I got from his book is that: “Text is not a feature of Websites; it is a primitive, a fundamental and unalterable component.” Obviously, I will take into account this message, when I will be looking for an alternative to “lubricating”, in order to properly illustrate my alt text of any future adult sites.

By contrast, I’ve learned a lot from other readings. First of all, CSS in action, provides a vivid illustration of various techniques, which by hiding some instructions for the screen reader could significantly ease the navigation of your web site for all users. In addition, as the web site mentions:”When used judiciously, this technique can resolve some of the tension between the demands of accessibility and the demands of visual design.”

Finally, if a web designer does not have 30 days for his task, and instead he has to design a basic accessible site in only 8 days, then my advice would be to follow these steps:

Day 1: Identifying your language

Day 2: Adding titles to links

Day 3: Not opening new windows

Day 4: Defining acronyms

Day 5: Providing text equivalents for images

Day 6: Using relative font sizes

Day 7: Using real headers

Day 8: Making everything searchable

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