Accessibility

I want to thank Mason and the rest of my peers for providing me with feedback on my image assignment. I was really impressed with everyone’s work!

The topic of accessibility is an important and often overlooked one. When I was in library school, I was required to take an introduction to information technologies course in which we were tasked with creating a website from scratch. Keep in mind that the final result was not sophisticated in nature (I had a bright pink background with purple text and an exceptionally annoying image of tulips on the front page) and the requirements were nowhere near as rigorous as those set out for the Clio 2 assignments. Students just had to demonstrate a very basic mastery of HTML, CSS, and XML. Accessibility was one of the topics that we covered in depth, and our final websites had to be run through WAVE and/or Achecker (as well as W3C validator) and all errors corrected before the project could be considered finished. The weeks discussing accessibility and how disabled people use information technology was incredibly eye-opening to me, and I’m glad that we are spending time in Clio 2 going over it as well. Dr. Petrik has already given us several helpful tips on how to make our sites more accessible and easier for screen-readers to handle.

I decided to run my portfolio, typography, and image pages through WAVE to see how many errors they would throw. For all three of my pages, my only error is that “the language of the document is not identified.” This is an easy fix and the next time I’m in TextWrangler I’ll be sure to add the proper HTML tag. Apart from errors, my portfolio and image pages had no alerts. My typography page did have one alert: the image of the courthouse has redundant alternate text – the alternative text for the image matches the image caption. I didn’t know that having identical alt text and captions would be an issue, but, again, it’s an easy fix. To compare accessibility tools, I also ran my site through AChecker. My portfolio page has two known problems, both of which stem from my unidentified document language, and 45 potential problems, and to fix those problems Achecker’s suggestions range from providing “text alternatives to non-text context” and having adaptable content. My typography page has five known problems, the usual two for not identifying the document language, and three for using the <i> HTML tag rather than adding <em> to the CSS. The page also has 48 potential problems. Lastly, my image page has two known problems (document language) and 96 potential problems! It seems that AChecker is a bit more thorough than WAVE, and it lets you know what could become problems down the road. In addition, AChecker also has HTML and CSS validation, so you can check your code and accessibility all in one place.

The bottom line is that it is very easy to make simple changes to your website in order to make it more accessible. For example, you can add extra HTML or CSS as our readings have shown, or you can use various tools to alert you to problems you might not have noticed before. It is important that we make these changes in order for the information we put out on the web to be easily disseminated and read by anyone, regardless of how they use or access the internet.

My comment on Stephanie’s post

4 Comments

  1. I like how you highlight the simple changes that you can do to a website to make it more accessible to those that rare disabled. I found the 10 tipslisted in Jared Smith’s 10 Easy Accessibility Tips Anyone post to be both practical and enlightening. Often times the things that will improve the accessibility the most are the simple things. Making sure to use an h1, use caption tags for tables and images, filling out the alternative text field etc. The structure of HTML and CSS allow for increased accessibility. Essentially it is naive or poor design that can inhibit the webpages accessibility (using tags instead of an etc.). It has caused me to pause and think about my “style” of coding and how I can improve my awareness of and implementation of those simple tips.

  2. Jefferson Byrd

    I ran my portfolio page through WAVE as well. One of the issues WAVE spotted was a failure to identify a document language, as you also mentioned. Strangely enough, when I ran the page through AChecker, it said there were no problems detected. I am not sure why that would be.

  3. You are really an inspiration. I will run WAVE and aChecker through my site. Tonight I’m working through the list of accessibility tips in our reading and adding alt text, landmarks etc. I hope my results will be as successful as yours.

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