Archive for March, 2007

Up and accessible!

Friday, March 16th, 2007

Ok, the web site is finally up! It was a longer road than anticipated. Now for a first blog post. I guess I’ll start by talking about the site. One objective was to show that it is possible to make an attractive site that complies with the accessibility standards. That is, make a site that works well for the visually impaired as well as for everyone else. We weren’t purists about it but hope we came close. It wasn’t easy finding a good web designer who understood the accessibility and W3C requirements. Our thanks to David.

We focus on unmet needs because we care about people. Our mission is to create products and services that make lives better, that delight users. So an accessible website is one way for us to show our social responsibility. But, there is also a business side to this too. The more accessible our design, the wider browser compatibility we should have. We are in business so nothing should stand between our message and our clients, especially not any browser quirks. Hence, no dancing babies here. We are not in the media business so that stuff doesn’t help. If it messes up in someone’s browser then it hurts. The KISS principle is a good place to start.

Because of bugs in the browsers, particularly IE, some annoying tradeoffs had to be made to stay compliant. It turns out it is not possible to be perfect on all browsers without embedding many complicated browser-specific hacks. (For example, the IE 3-Pixel Float Bug.) That hurts robustness and maintainability. We went for the latter, so apologize for the minor quirks that will appear to some of you and hope those disappear with the newer browser versions. The benefit is that you should never have a problem getting the content.

If you want an accessible web site I can suggest the following links. We used them early in our research. Good luck with it.

~~ Alan

Introductory help on accessibility and browser compatibility:
http://www.anybrowser.org/campaign/abdesign.html
http://www1.shore.net/~straub/wprmultb.htm

Catalogs of resources:
http://www.washington.edu/doit/Resources/web-design.html
http://library.uwsp.edu/aschmetz/Accessible/pub_resources.htm

Helpful advice:
http://www.makoa.org/web-design.htm
http://trace.wisc.edu/world/web/index.html
http://www.mardiros.net/accessible-web-design.html

Standards:
Version_2.0 http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/
Version_1.0 http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/WAI-WEBCONTENT-19990505/
V 1.0 Techniques http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10-TECHS/
Core techniques http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10-CORE-TECHS/
HTML techniques
http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10-HTML-TECHS/
CSS techniques http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10-CSS-TECHS/
Checklist http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10/full-checklist.html

The view from England
http://www.rnib.org.uk/xpedio/groups/public/documents/…

A site for testing your pages:
http://webxact.watchfire.com/

Update (May 20th)
Wordpress has a very good article on accessibilty. Though oriented toward blogs and gets into more detail than I wanted to see it has good explanation of the basics and ways to be accessible.
http://codex.wordpress.org/Accessibility