Thursday, February 19, 2009

Designing for Accessibility

How accessible is your website? If you are interested in finding out, you may enter your URL at the WAVE website for a quick evaluation. You may also download the WAVE Firefox plug-in for even greater control.

Well, did your site have any errors? Technically, you do not have anything to worry about unless your site is for a government agency. In any case, Web standards are a good thing to design for and this WAVE plug-in can be a great tool to help find any gaps you may have. In addition, this tool can also serve as another check list item for your next client-side code review.

If you are interested in designing for accessibility, the effort is minimal. For example, you can achieve nearly zero accessibility errors by simply focusing on these three categories:
  1. Create accessible forms
  2. Create accessible images with appropriate alt text
  3. Use appropriate heading and table header tags

You may be wondering about dynamic content. If you have dynamically updated content, you will also want to learn about ARIA (Accessibility of Rich Internet Applications). For example, if you have data that gets dynamically updated within a <div> tag you can include aria attributes to notify assistive technologies of dynamic content updates. Here are several examples that demonstrate how to make your dynamic content accessible. There is nothing to install to take advantage of ARIA. ARIA is supported in Firefox 3+ and IE 8+.

In conclusion, the effort involved to implement these accessibility standards is relatively minor. In return, you are designing towards standards, your site is consumable by a larger user base, and you have just given your sales team another competitive advantage. The WAVE plug-in also gives you and your QA team an automated tool to evaluate pages for accessibility compliance.

No comments :

Post a Comment