Presenting Content for Those With
Disabilities is Very Important
 

Accessing and Using the Web for Everyone

For people with disabilities, using the Internet is not always a simple task. What you or I may take for granted may be a major stumbling block to someone who cannot see or hear. It is very important to ensure that accessibility is maximized wherever possible.

Issues to consider can be summarized as follows:

  • Text and text equivalents:
    Wrapping up your entire website in images and Flash animations will make it impossible for a teletype machine to feed the information to someone who has difficulty seeing. Using text for as much of your content as possible is crucial, and using text equivalents (e.g. ALT tags) for images also ensures that disabled users can ‘read’ your images if necessary.
     
  • Understandable content:
    This may seem obvious, but it’s a widely made mistake throughout the Internet. Content should always be simple and easy to read. This means not being overly wordy, as well as taking care to avoid spelling and grammatical errors.
     
  • Quick download times:
    Keep pictures to a minimum, and make sure that those that are used are fully optimized for file size. Avoid using too many nested tables when possible, and ensure you use style sheets. This will trim down page size, and also allow users to control the look of your content if they so choose, by overwriting the style sheet on your website with one of their own.
     
  • Limited use of Plug-ins:
    The use of Flash, Java, ActiveX and the like has increased dramatically over the years. Sometimes the function of the website is compromised at the expense of a visually appealing animation or navigation structure. This goes beyond accessibility issues, as users who lack the appropriate plug-ins or hardware will be unable to view these pages properly.

    This is not to say that plug-ins should be completely avoided, rather their use should be carefully implemented, and only when necessary or appropriate.
     
  • Functional and inherent navigation:
    A website’s navigation is its lifeblood. A poor navigation structure can destroy a user’s experience, and hurt your online image. Use methods to determine your website’s architecture and navigation, ensuring that usability and memorization of your navigation is maximized.

    Another tip is to avoid the use of frames when possible, as this can change the appearance of your website within different browsers, and makes linking and bookmarking to specific pages unnecessarily difficult.

Accessibility Tips

  • Text
    Text and text equivalents (such as ALT tags) should be used as much as possible.
     
  • Content
    Strive to make content easy to understand. Communicate ideas to all visitors, whether they have extensive knowledge of the Internet, or none at all.
     
  • Download times:
    Some some exceptions, limit how many pictures are on a site. Optimized those used for size. Larger pictures have smaller versions, or thumbnails, available for users to click on to view the larger equivalents.
     
  • Plug-ins
    Avoid the use of Flash, Shockwave, Quick Time, Video, Animations in general and embedded sounds.
     
  • Navigation
    Navigation must be consistent (always appears in the same places) and adheres to standards. Avoid using frames.