Accessibility means access to information for all - not only focusing on people with disabilities or elders people, but also the people who:
- may not have or be able to use keyboard or mouse
- may have a text only screen, small screen or slow internet connection
- may not speak or understand fluently the language in which the docuemnt is written
- may be in a situation where their eyes, ears or hands are busy interfered with
- may have an early version or different type of browser
The guidelines from W3C address 2 general themes about accessible design:
1) Ensuring Graceful Transformtion
2) Making Content Understandable
Here are the 14 guidelines from W3C:
- Provide equivalent alternatives to auditory and visual content.
- Don't rely on color alone.
- Use markup and style sheets and do so properly.
- Clarify natural language usage.
- Create tables that transform gracefully.
- Ensure that pages featuring new technologies transform gracefully.
- Ensure user control of time-sensitive content changes.
- Ensure direct accessibility of embedded user interfaces.
- Design for device-independence.
- Use interim solutions.
- Use W3C technologies and guidelines.
- Provide context and orientation information.
- Provide clear navigation mechanisms.
- Ensure that documents are clear and simple.
So, you may ask, how can we know or check our website is satisfied to these guidelines or not?
There is a website call WebXACT allows you to test the accessibility of your pages. Just simply type the URL of your page and it will generate a report for you.
After the report comes out, you will find some checkpoints there. Each checkpoint has a priority level assigned. According to W3C's guidelines, priorities have the following meanings:
Priority 1 - A Web content developer must satisfy this checkpoint. Otherwise, one or more groups will find it impossible to access information in the document. Satisfying this checkpoint is a basic requirement for some groups to be able to use Web documents.
Priority 2 - A Web content developer should satisfy this checkpoint. Otherwise, one or more groups will find it difficult to access information in the document. Satisfying this checkpoint will remove significant barriers to accessing Web documents.
Priority 3 - A Web content developer may address this checkpoint. Otherwise, one or more groups will find it somewhat difficult to access information in the document. Satisfying this checkpoint will improve access to Web documents.
By using WebXACT, you can now easily find out the problems of your website and fix them one by one to improve the accessibility of the site.