Reader Comments on Aardvark Daily 12 Feb 2001
Note: the comments below are the unedited
submissions of readers and do
not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publisher.
From: James Laycock For : Right Of Reply (for publication) Subj: Web access for the disabled I thoroughly agree with everything you wrote about web designers producing a "simple" version for the visually or intellectually impaired. I myself am blessed with full normal sight and other capacities, but will ALWAYS look for the "print this story" icon/link on a news page, click it and then start reading. I find that it's worth taking up to 15 seconds looking for it. I favour the sites which provide this feature: it's a sort of spam filter. It lets me read what I came to read, without being distracted by the other rubbish surrounding it. (Your own site is laid out simply and neatly so I can read it without doing this, for which much thanks.) I also like sites for the bandwidth impaired, and would like to see a choice available so that the website could query my browser for my preference (just as it does for my browser make and model). Just an idea. From: Graham Oliver For : The Editor (for publication) Subj: Web Accessibility Hi Bruce Thanks for the article on web accessibility. A few responses..... There are 3 levels of accessibility specified by the W3C. Priority 1,2 and 3 (defined below). Certainly the W3C would regard Priority 1 as a minimal standard of accessibility but certainly not the only standard. [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. The special tag for defining menu elements already exists its called the 'accesskey' tag, defined as part of the HTML 4.01 spec www.w3.org/TR/html401/interact/forms.html#adef-accesskey This tag is arguably as important to those with agility problems who may find it very hard to select links with the mouse (or tab through a whole lot of links using the keyboard, or other device) The issue of creating more straightforward text is addressed here: www.w3.org/TR/1999/WAI-WEBCONTENT-19990505/#gl-facilitate-comprehension There are a couple of key points I would raise in respect of this :- 1. Disabled doesn't only include the blind and visually impaired. For example, a deaf person who uses sign language as their main means of communication may have difficuly comprehending complex text, thus making text simple and straightforward will benefit them. 2. Designing for Accessibility can also benefit those who are not disabled. For example, by making text clear and simple you benefit foreign language speakers who don't use English as their first language. I could go on..... :-) If you, or anyone else has any other questions on web accessibility let me know. Thanks again Bruce From: Jamie Mackay For : Right Of Reply (for publication) Subj: Accessible websites I was interested in your article on making websites accessible. I disagree with your comment that the W3C guidelines for web accessiblity are designed to provide only a minimal level of access to the disabled. In fact they provide a comprehensive set of protocols which, if followed completely (almost impossible in my experience) can make a website as accessible as it possibly can be, given the retraints of html and current browsers. In regards to having special tags for defining menu items, this ability already exists in that you can define keys that correspond to links on a site, this is a good practice for often repeated navigation links, not so much for blind users as for those who cannot use a mouse. I am not sure that there is any advantage to having alt text that is only accessible to the visually impaired - for a start this is not a single group and there are as many variations in screen reader interpretation as there are in browsers! Also, Alt text should only be brief (no more than a hundred characters) - if more is required use a 'D' link. I think what you are suggesting is an automatic description link that only those using screen readers will pick up - this is exactly what the 'Longdesc' tag is for (though currently only a few screen readers can interpret it). Finally Alt-text is useful for anyone who has chosen to turn off image downloads or who use browsers that do not support images. The guidelines are divided into three levels of priority, and your statement is only true if a designer is only complying with the priority one requirements. However anyone interested in designing accessible websites should be looking to make their site at least priority 2 accesible. None of this is as daunting as it may sound. If you know how to design properly structured pages and are prepared to learn HTML4(or better still XHTML Strict)and how to use Cascading Style Sheets properly then most of the battle is won. These are techniques that web designers should be using anyway, the main additional requirement for accessible sites is that complex and/or significant images need to be described separately (via a 'D' link or 'Longdesc' tag), links need to be meaningful out of context and be separated by more that white space and any information in sound or video files needs to be adequately represented in other forms. You can see an example of how all this can work on some priority 2 accessible pages I have been working on recently which include both photographs and sound files: www.nzhistory.net.nz/dnzb_exhibs/lit/index.htm I am happy to discuss any of this further with anyone who is interested. Jamie Mackay Web Editor Ministry for Culture and Heritage From: Robyn For : Right Of Reply (for publication) Subj: Accessible web sites I agree with what Jamie and Graham have said. As a person with partial sight web pages can drive me nuts. As a principle I do not want something separate - I want access to the same info as everyone else. Also accessibility features are also useful for people with physical disabilities who can't use kyboards. And if this has mistakes its because the text in this box is so small I can barely read it! Not all partially sighted people use screen readers so design, colour contrast, size and type of font are also important.Now Have Your Say
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