Director at Webcredible
09 June 2004 16:39pm
There seems to be so much confusion surrounding web accessibility and what’s required to make your website accessible to blind and disabled people. You don’t need to dumb down your website, or make a text-only version. You can make it virtually anyway you like and it can still be accessible. Take a look at:
They all look pretty good to me and they’re all accessible. It’s a tragedy that the RNIB and DRC, the two greatest advocates of web accessibility and two of the first websites that people look at when investigating accessibility, are so unattractive.
If you know of any more accessible websites that have great designs please let me know!
Retired at Retired
09 June 2004 17:33pm
These sites have a lot in common. A rectangular page layout and rather simple navigation structure. I have a problem with a couple of these
So I would not personally hold them up as shining examples. But that is detail - I think the thrust of this post is right. But clients and designers have to design much simpler web sites. No fly-out menus, good colour contrast and so on.
We had a client who was conterned about this, and we brought in a consultant to help us create a moderately accessible site. The requirement fizzled to a crisp at the first hurdle.
10 June 2004 09:04am
Thanks for posting, Bob. I think the Data Perceptions website is under development now and it’s only the homepage that’s done, which is why everything changes when you click on a link.
As for the Webcredible website, well, I’m not sure why you said it only works on two browsers. As far as I’m aware it works on every post-version 4 browser out there, including IE, Netscape, Safari, Firefox, Opera etc., making it accessible to 99%+ of Internet users. I can be certain of this because I’ve tested it in all those browsers!
I’m also very surprised that your client’s demands for his website couldn’t be made accessible. I’d be interested to know why. Was the consultant pushing for maximum accessibility or just for the client’s website to do the basics?
10 June 2004 09:40am
I mentioned those browser versions because that is what it says on the site. I didn't mention Opera etc because they are basically irrelevant.
The whole point about accessibility is to make it accessible to the 1% of internet users who have a disability. If at the same time you make the site inaccessible to the 1% who are technologically challenged it all seems a bit pointless. (don't have a stat on the 1% because I made it up but you get the idea).
BTW I know of one very very large technology company who's standard browser is Netscape 4.7. Note also 2.4.1 - 4th bullet point. on the e-government site.
Our site failed to be accessible because the client wanted drop-down graphical menus. We made it pretty accessible within that, but I don't think we achived level A even. However I am not convinced the sites you mention all meet this level either - but I am not an expert.
Given all this irrelevant nit-picking I don't disgree with your general point. Designers always want to over-design sites (in my no to so humble opinion). Yet the Japanese with their haiku form have shown that great beauty can some from extreme simplicity. I would say only one designer in ten is able to achive the web equivalent of a haiku poem.
Lets have a prize for a haiku web site.
10 June 2004 12:40pm
I see where you’re coming from, Bob. In my personal opinion making your website compatible with NN4 and IE4 users is optional. So few people use them (now less than 1%) and it’s free to upgrade. I do think that once a browser becomes so outdated it’s the responsibility of its user to upgrade (for free!). Anyway, that’s my two cents.
With regards to accessibility for blind and disabled people, well they don’t have a choice about their disability. They can’t just upgrade so that the Internet is easier for them to use. I know your quote of 1% is made up, but I’ve seen statistics suggesting that up to 20% of Internet users face accessibility problems on websites. For example, in the UK there are 8.6million (14% of the population) registered disabled people. Check out my article on SitePoint which quotes lots of statistics like this.
But I’m glad you agree with my general point. Accessibility is not brain science - it just involves some creativity in working with your current design. And I agree with you too about the over-designing. Websites aren’t for designers to showcase their skills, they’re there for real people to use them.
P.S. All those websites I mentioned are fully compliant with Priority 1 checkpoints and pass the many of Priority 2 and 3 too.
Senior SEO at Weboptimiser
10 June 2004 13:48pm
>> Our site failed to be accessible because the client wanted drop-down graphical menus.
Then why did you not suggest the use of advanced CSS techniques? You sacrifice some of the pre v5 browser market, and some Opera users (Opera has some known problems with CSS2 positioning commands especially)
None of these problems apply to the actual targets, disabled users, who use screen readers. The use of CSS allows you to arrange the code logically in the source document, but to render in the browser in a different, hopefully more attractive manner.
>> I would say only one designer in ten
I'd say you're optomistic. I find it rare that I meet a web designer who's heard of the W3C, let alone codes to DTDs
>> BTW I know of one very very large technology company who's standard browser is Netscape 4.7.
Then they should be made to pay for their short-sightedness by finding the web almost unusable. Oh, they do. Idiots like that don't deserve a dialup connection, even
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