Web accessibility is about making your website accessible to all Internet users (both disabled and non-disabled), regardless of what browsing technology they're using. In addition to complying with the law, an accessible website can reap huge benefits on to your website and your business.
The first and perhaps the most important rule of web accessibility. Not everyone is using the latest version of Internet Explorer, with all the plug-ins and programs that you may require them to have for your website. Different browsing technologies, each with their own accessibility requirements, can include:
This basically means that to ensure your website is accessible to everyone you must provide alternatives to:
For enhanced website accessibility you must also be careful how your pages look when support for CSS and/or tables has been removed.
There are two good ways you can check your website is accessible for all these:
When a web user fills out a form it's a great thing. People fill out forms to:
These are the goals of your website! A site visitor may look through your site, decides he likes what he sees and tries to sign up to your newsletter.
...But the form isn't accessible to him so he clicks away and you lose a potential customer. Most forms on the web suffer from accessibility issues. The two main reasons for this are:
(Prompt text is the text that appears next to each form item, for example, ‘name’, ‘e-mail’, ‘comments’)
To find out more please read our article about making accessible forms.
We generally don't read web pages. We scan, trying to find what we're looking for as quickly as possible. On a regular monitor, we scroll down the page looking at the items that stand out from the rest of the text: headings, links, bold text and bullet points. Non-keyboard and visually impaired users often scan pages by tabbing between headings or links.
To ensure the accessibility of your website, use headings, links, bold text and bullet points and make sure they contain descriptive text. For example, never use ‘click here’ for link text.
By separating structure and presentation your website will be accessible to and ready for the future of the Internet: PDAs, mobile phones, in-car browsers, WebTV and 1600px screens.
The structure of a document is how it is organised, usually with navigational menu items, headings, sub-headings, paragraphs, lists, and links. The presentation of a document is how these words and images are presented to the end user.
The main principle behind this accessibility guideline is to use CSS and not tables to lay out your web pages.
There's more to separating structure and presentation than just laying your web pages out with CSS. Have a look at this HTML element list that tells you which elements are structural and which are presentational. For optimal web accessibility, you can, and should, avoid using presentational elements as they may cause your website to become less accessible to certain users.
All web users have unique requirements for how they use the Internet, depending on the kind of browser they're using or any kind of handicap or disability they may have. By handing control back to your users you'll enhance your website's accessibility and you site visitors will be able to use your website in the way that best suits them.
This accessibility guideline could mean allowing users to resize text, warning them when links are going to open in a new window, or providing a link at the top of the screen that takes the user directly to the page content.