Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Update: And accessibility for all...........

Well, I have been doing some pretty heavy reading and learning about accessibility as it pertains to web design and I must say.... Oh my! I consider myself to be a pretty anal person with regards to my details and such and I do think I have quite the eye for detail, but I must say that I missed more than I thought with regards to my designs.

In going over the basic checklist that I found for accessibility, I was missing things like the "title" for images and links, as well as specifying the specific dimensions of an image used on a page. Even with the stuff that I missed (that I have now fixed on my own site), there are some things that you have to do to meet certain levels of the rules that for me, just seem slightly over the edge. I know that this is a relatively new thing, so new that the HTML standard doesn't have provisions for some of it, but I am sure that will the next iteration of HTML that things will hopefully improve.

One example of what I am referring to as over the edge is with regards to graphics/pics. You are not allowed to have two or more pics adjacent to one another without them being separated somehow. This separation can be in the form of a "|" separator or [ ] to enclose each pic in. To me, this just doesn't fit the aesthetic of my site.

Another example, again relating to graphics/pics, has to do with the description of it. You are required with each pics/graphic used to provide an 'alt' tag, which contains a short description of what the graphic is to convey. If the graphic conveys more than just a quick sentence of information then you must use the "longdesc" tag in your img tag. This "longdes" tag contains the URL of a text file on your host that contains the full description of the information that is to be conveyed by the graphic. To go a little further, if you use the "longdesc" tag, then you must also provide an anchor as a "D" or "d" next to the graphic that links to that same text description file. This definitely adds an element to your site that to me, just didn't look right.

So, as you can see from these two examples, there are some issues within HTML that will need to be addressed by the committee that sets the standard to allow for use of the accessibility standard that will not be as intrusive on your site. Thankfully, the w3c is heavily involved in this effort and even have a site dedicated to accessibility. We shall see in the next iteration of HTML if they can provide the needed provisions. Until then, I guess I won't meet all 3 levels of accessibility qualification.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

And accessibility for all.....

I guess it was only a matter of time before the issue of accessibility came around and bit us, and hard. I am one who fully agrees that everyone has the right to everything, even those with disabilities. It just shocked me today when I read the article about the lawsuit brought forth against Target by The National Federation of the Blind. The article states that a judge has ruled that "any place of business that provides services, such as the opportunity to buy products on a website, is now, a place of accommodation and therefore falls under the ADA(Americans with Disabilities Act)".
This lawsuit is about someone who is vision impared not being able to use Target's website to buy anything because they are not compliant with Section 508, the accessibility standard. For web developers like myself, this means that I have more to learn, especially with regards to making all the websites I produce, accessible.
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