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Accessibility and Usability Forum

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When push comes to shove for accessibility.
what's the situation on the ground regarding accessibility?
vincevincevince




msg:3361054
 1:13 pm on Jun 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'm currently formulating policy for a webdesign firm. My opinion is that all websites designed should be fully accessible. Others differ.

What are your views on the topic? What's the current legal position (UK in particular)? Why are there so many non-accessibile sites still being produced?

How do you achieve accessibility without compromising design beauty?

 

cmarshall




msg:3361075
 1:39 pm on Jun 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think that many designers just plain don't like to add any more factors into what they consider an already complex project, especially if this is for a relatively small cross-section of their target.

They also (somewhat correctly) assume that accessibility design constricts them, and prevents them from implementing kewl new stufph. For example "Accessible AJAX" is -almost- an oxymoron, yet AJAX can drastically improve the usability of a site.

I have found that accessibility and usability are not always congruent.

I will often have an accessible "core set" of features for my site, ensuring that all capabilities can be accessed and used in an accessible manner. I don't "fork" the user experience into "for accessibility" and "not for accessibility." If I do that, the "for accessibility" ends up in a badly-implemented "ghetto." Instead, I make sure that the principal system is accessible.

I will then add "luxury interfaces" to add ehanced usability to the accessible "base."

Anyway, that's what works for me.

vincevincevince




msg:3361280
 6:05 pm on Jun 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

cmarshall, thanks for your response.

As you say, AJAX is a major sticking point. However, I am aware it is possible to make it degrade for those without javascript - there are many references on this for SEO purposes... and so I assume it is feasible to provide an accessible option to degrade it even if javascript is available (e.g. by cookie).

One particularly important topic for me is the submit button. Designers love to make it pretty... and in one current case, the designer isn't happy about using a background image with CSS formatted text on top... he wants it to be just the background image with no text. My concern is that it makes the text inaccessible to screenreaders - but where do you draw the line? How much effort is enough?

I've spent time developing systems to client-side replace text with images of text - and these work well for where designers want fancy fonts for headings - so I think I've covered that part. Just got to make some way to disable the function for those who can't read images.

You didn't mention the legal position. There are some sites around which suggest it is an absolute legal requirement that you do everything you reasonably can to make things accessible - but I still see brand new sites being launched which clearly haven't. What's the deal there? What's the justification... and would it stand up in court?

Marshall




msg:3361332
 7:03 pm on Jun 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

vincevincevince,

Like many others, I design sites that cover a wide range of purposes. I know that it would be virtually impossible to make some of my e-commerece sites fully accessible. Those type of sites aside, making sites meet at least minimum accessibility, is not that hard, IMHO. I am currently building one for a politician and it is fully compliant, but that's politics :), Anyway, it's like content - it depends on your target audience. Then again, at least in the US, certain sites are suppose to be accessible such as governmental, but even then, it is not always the case.

I think it really comes down to what is important to the site owner and whther or not being accessible is important to them.

iamlost




msg:3361652
 12:11 am on Jun 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

When formulating a site the prominence of each basic ingredient needs to be matched to the requirements of the client.

The problem with 'full' is that it is a subjective term. Even when referencing 'standards' and 'best practices':
* xHTML or HTML?
* transitional or strict DocType?
* Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0: A or AA or AAA?
* WCAG 1.0 or WCAG 2.0 or PAS 78?

Then there may be applicable legal requirements:
* Section 508 (USA) or DDA 1995/Code of Practice: Rights of Access (UK) or [insert country and regulation]?

I believe that initial site considerations must incorporate: accessibility, usability, site architecture, SEO/M, etc. I like to start with each at 'maximum' (my subjective) and only lessen where requirements or conflicts necessitate. It takes all the ingredients, in good proportion, well combined, to bake a proper site.

Why so many put up inaccessible sites?
Because they don't know any better because they really don't understand what they are doing; because you can only have any two of fast, cheap, or good; because CMS's suck at standards...I think you pushed a button... :-)

Doing it 'right' can take some getting used to and may add development time (and cost) but the result can add significant site value plus, of course, set you apart from the mass of cookie cutter web developers.

piatkow




msg:3364250
 12:09 pm on Jun 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

>>Why are there so many non-accessibile sites still being produced?

On a forum elsewhere there are regular posts of the nature of "how do I link to another page" from people who are setting themselves up as web site designers. I suspect that most of your answer is there.

appi2




msg:3364362
 2:42 pm on Jun 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

What are your views on the topic?

'I think' all websites should work (meaning you can order that widget/find the info you want), with js, css, flash and images for that matter disabled.

You then build on top of that basic structure.

How do you achieve accessibility without compromising design beauty?

Imagine a world where css and or js and or flash and or images don't exist and start from there.
You then build on top of that basic structure, designing each level.
but the full css/flash/js doesnt look the same.
(wheelchair ramps look different to stairs ;)

... he wants it to be just the background image with no text. My concern is that it makes the text inaccessible to screenreaders.

bad workaround ideas.
Separate css by user agent?
<noscript>?
clear gif above background img with
alt?
title?
please don't.

What's the current legal position (UK in particular)?

www.out-law.com :Disabled access to web sites under UK law [out-law.com]

lavazza




msg:3377564
 9:04 pm on Jun 24, 2007 (gmt 0)


Imagine a world where css and or js and or flash and or images don't exist and start from there

I agree completely and, for me, one real asset in this regard is the Opera browser, which can toggle between Author Mode and User Mode via a keyboard shortcut

In my (ever so humble) opinion, site designers should, for the sake of the site owners, aim to accommodate as many visitors as possible

wheelchair ramps look different to stairs ;)

I like the analogy and, extending/twisting/mangling(?) it, I see the 'net as a highway - as opposed to an inner-city street - where everyone is welcome, but if your car is too slow/you can't see the view/etc, don't blame the roading engineers... get a better car (browser)

Marshall




msg:3377571
 9:15 pm on Jun 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

Just curious, but how many designers actually view their designs with the CSS, scripts, and whatever, turned off? I think many would be surprised what they find - or don't find. What's that saying about walking in another man's* shoes?

*gender neutral :)

Marshall

cmarshall




msg:3377601
 9:59 pm on Jun 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

Just curious, but how many designers actually view their designs with the CSS, scripts, and whatever, turned off?

<raisehand style="tentative"/>

I also check them out in colorblind simulators, REALLY obsolete and odd browsers, plus, I always make iCab smile.

Regindk




msg:3379505
 7:35 pm on Jun 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

For me it has allways been a question of what is most cost efficient [PERIOD] - for me that is: Getting the stuff to work with IE 6+, FF 1.5+ and generally Safari. If it validates or not... who cares? [x,z,y] - well, they are not my main business!

Anyhow I try to make life easy for blind people - using as few images with texts as posible and if needed I allways add the alt tag.

My 2 cents...

Marshall




msg:3379573
 8:47 pm on Jun 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

"and if needed I allways add the alt tag."

You should ALWAYS use and alt tag, accessibility noy withstanding.

Marshall

cmarshall




msg:3379576
 8:53 pm on Jun 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

I will say that this points out one reason that accessibility is given such short shrift. One reason is that designers feel that it is an unnecessary restriction on their creative vision, and the other, that it is expensive and time-consuming.

My experience is that it's pretty much designed in from the beginning. I start when I first begin coding, and it seems to just grow in. If you try to attach it at the end, it becomes expensive and problematic.

lavazza




msg:3379589
 9:07 pm on Jun 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

If it validates or not... who cares?

I do, simply cos I have no idea what devices my clients potential customers will be using

If serious money is in the offing, then maybe/probably some of the potential customers will be surfing via the latest whizz-bang new toy that hits the shelves next month - and if (high probability?) it conforms to the w3c recommendations, then my code will look at least 'ok'

cmarshall




msg:3379621
 9:40 pm on Jun 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

If it validates or not... who cares?

I do.

Validators act as debuggers for me. If I make all my pages validate (not really difficult, these days, as I design valid code pretty much from git-go), then a failed validation is a bug, and the validator is nice enough to show me which line is the issue.

THAT is a HUGE reason to do valid code.

Validation: It ain't just a pretty face.

le_gber




msg:3379700
 11:04 pm on Jun 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

Just curious, but how many designers actually view their designs with the CSS, scripts, and whatever, turned off?

To be honest most don't - they wouldn't know how to toggle these things on/off :) (for those of you who want to, check out firefox 'web developer toolbar' or ie 'ais web accessibility toolbar'.

What are your views on the topic?

Design and accessibility can be served together and create a beautiful - and usable - sites. There are way of making flash and javascript / ajax more accessible but people usually don't do it because of lack of time or knowledge.

Why are there so many non-accessibile sites still being produced?

As above, lack of time and/or knowledge and also:
1. small business users want to have more and more control over their content and ask to have CMS's added to their site - most of which still create invalid/deprecated code;
2. because frontpage is loaded with windows and people think that this makes them web designers;
3. because people are lazy. It take some thoughts to make a complex site accessible and even some 'professional' web desingers still choose the 'cheap' route when it comes to coding. A lot still do it even for simple sites.

When I see the 30Kb html page I just received from a 'professional' web designer (many years experience), with 6 levels of embedded tables, no doctype and the site not displaying properly in FFox, I can't help but cringe. When I'm done with the page, it'll be 3 or 4Kb as these's almost no text on it, but plenty of td and inline style!

What's the current legal position (UK in particular)?

Some people would like to have you beleive that it's a legal requirement to have an accessible website, but it only is for governental bodies. And when you see what the DTI has been up to [google.co.uk], you stop wondering why accessibility is not mainstream yet.

One particularly important topic for me is the submit button. Designers love to make it pretty... and in one current case, the designer isn't happy about using a background image with CSS formatted text on top... he wants it to be just the background image with no text. My concern is that it makes the text inaccessible to screenreaders - but where do you draw the line? How much effort is enough?

Button design - this should give your designer some ideas: -http://www.digital-web.com/articles/push_my_button/ you can do anything with button and CSS

ogletree




msg:3379704
 11:23 pm on Jun 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

Because just about anybody can say they are a web developer. As an SEO I get handed all kinds of sites. You would be shocked what some companies put out. I'm not talking fortune 1000 but medium sized businesses that make good money and have over 100 employees. A company that size will have somebodies wife who fancies herself a web designer or the bosses next door neighbors kid who is in the 11th grade design the site. There are not that many web developers out there that really know their craft. They also don't take the time to understand the finer points of web design. Most of them have no concept of writing code. They don't know what the codes even mean. They spend most their time in a WYSIWYG editor and copy and paste snippets from code they found on the web or in a book. I mention SEO because SEO and accessibility have pretty much the same goals. If you do one well the other will have been taken care of. I am an SEO as well as a legally blind person.

cmarshall




msg:3379747
 12:36 am on Jun 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

I mention SEO because SEO and accessibility have pretty much the same goals.

Well, I could care less about SEO. I do sites for NPOs that cater to small, select audiences. I probably should care about it a bit more, but it's never been a priority. However, accessibility has been a central goal since Day One. It would be nice to think that we get some SEO from our accessibility work.

pageoneresults




msg:3379796
 2:06 am on Jun 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

However, accessibility has been a central goal since Day One. It would be nice to think that we get some SEO from our accessibility work.

Oh, that's a given. In fact, looking at it from that perspective, you begin to forget about the SEO knowing that what you are doing from the accessibility side is covering the SEO basics and then some.

If your site passes WAI-A validation, Bobby, etc. then there is a good chance that you've covered SEO at the advanced level.

lavazza




msg:3379822
 2:37 am on Jun 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

For me, writing anything but valid code would risk having to rework a site for no extra money

So, for that one reason alone, it's a no-brainer!

However, I guess I'm more geek than bread-head cos I still get a buzz from seeing my efforts displayed as I intended in any broswer - esp so when there's a new release of Internet Exploiter

cmarshall




msg:3379824
 2:40 am on Jun 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

If your site passes WAI-A validation, Bobby, etc. then there is a good chance that you've covered SEO at the advanced level.

We do WAI-AAA these days. I haven't tested with Bobby in some time. It was having real problems, and WebXact kept trying to sell me their pro product whenever I whined about their sick baby. I gave up when it became clear they had no intention of ever updating Bobby.

Someone on this forum told me about Total Validator, and I also test with Hermish and Cynthia Says, so I try to get everything in I can.

pageoneresults




msg:3379833
 3:13 am on Jun 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

We do WAI-AAA these days.

I don't want to present a challenge or anything but, achieving Triple A is quite an accomplishment. And, at that level, there is more manual checking than automated. That leaves things open to interpretation. At one time I sported the Triple A badge. After doing further research, my interpretation of some of the manual checks was not in line with others. So, to avoid any issues, I just backed up to WAI-A which is more than adequate in most instances.

cmarshall




msg:3380041
 10:46 am on Jun 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

It's not been a problem to validate (check my home page from my profile -it's actually an old and overcomplicated one. I can do better these days), but passing the validator doesn't mean that it is really accessible. For example, I often fail the TV test (but pass many others. I almost always pass all the Hermish tests.) because I don't nest all the headings in the proper order. This is because I'm lazy, and don't want to have to keep defining new CSS classes, but, if I were really serious, I would.

I've never worried about no stinkin' badges, but it's like whizzing in a dark suit. No one notices, but you get a warm feeling.

I basically do it by habit. It's like when I write warning-free C++ code. You just develop habits that permeate your work, and you don't even think about it.

I find that it's not much more work to do Priority 3, once you have Priority 1. Usually just a few tweaks.

I get challenged all the time. For some reason, this seems to upset people. I'm not whizzing on anyone's fire hydrants, and the sites I do are pretty obscure. They won't "spoil it for the rest of us."

I just take my quality pretty seriously, as the sites could save lives. My audience has an unusually high percentage of disabled persons. They also have a fairly low literacy and technical proficiency level; so usability is even more important than accessibility.

One of my favorite quotes is Aristotle:

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an act, but a habit."

pageoneresults




msg:3380201
 1:30 pm on Jun 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

I get challenged all the time. For some reason, this seems to upset people.

Challenges are fun! Heck, I've learned a great deal from life's challenges. :)

Okay, I took a peek and there are a few things I would challenge. Basically it comes down to interpretation of the guidelines.

For instance, alt="shim" and alt="preload" wouldn't pass "my interpretation" of accessibility. Especially when there are more than a few back to back. Makes for a somewhat repetitive audible experience.

Ah, the use of the title attribute. Now, that's one that can really be overused and abused. For me, if the anchor text doesn't describe the destination of the link, I rethink my anchor text strategy. Adding a title attribute to every href might be a bit overboard. ;)

cmarshall




msg:3380216
 1:50 pm on Jun 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the feedback.

I just learned recently that it's OK to use blank alt attributes, so I now do that for my shims (I also use far fewer shims these days. As I said, that's actually a pretty old site). I used the word "shim" because it is such a short audible "blip," yet makes sense, so people aren't constantly going "Say, what?"

Shim-shimminy, shim-shim-shimee...

As far as titles go, I don't always put titles on all links, but I have found that it is almost expected these days. We can thank MS for that, with tooltips all over.

In most cases, where usability and accessibility conflict, I opt for usability; unless there's a special reason for accessibility.

Marshall




msg:3380233
 2:01 pm on Jun 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

It's like everything else - "You can please some of the people some of the time..."*

Try your best and be sincere, that's a good approach.

Marshall

*Of course, Robin Williams finshed with "and j**k the rest off." :0

pageoneresults




msg:3380600
 8:40 pm on Jun 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

I just learned recently that it's OK to use blank alt attributes.

<img src="/shim.gif" alt=" ">

The above (quote space quote) is a blank alt attribute (to me) and is not suggested.

<img src="/shim.gif" alt="">

The above (quotequote no space) is an empty alt attribute and is the preferred method for images that are void of meaning.

<img src="/li.gif" alt="*">

What's that one do? :)

cmarshall




msg:3380608
 8:46 pm on Jun 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

What's that one do? :)

I dunno. I'll try it out later. I now use the second one (completely empty) for shims and placeholders.

DrDoc




msg:3380609
 8:46 pm on Jun 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

I am completely stumped whenever I hear voices adamantly stating that accessibility is "not worth it" ... or that validation is "not worth it" ...

What?!

Is there ever a compelling reason NOT write valid code? Is there ever a compelling reason NOT to care about rudimentary accessibility and usability?

Give me a single example of when a site aimed for public consumption would benefit from being lacking in a single of those areas!

DrDoc




msg:3380610
 8:48 pm on Jun 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

<img src="/li.gif" alt="*">

What's that one do?

I'm afraid to find out the answer ...

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