more Quotes

For December 2011:

If I Could Hear What You Can See!

What should developers bear in mind when ensuring that their websites need to be made fully accessible to those who are blind and partially sighted?

If I could hear what you can see then what a wonderful world it would be!

What does this all mean?

When developing a website, developers need to be fully cognoscente of the following:

  • Special technology and how it deals with icons, images, graphics, and pop-up and drop down menus.
  • Accessible file formats.
  • Readable web content.
  • Links that are easy to understand and navigate.
  • Language that is easy to understand.
  • Fields and forms are easy to complete.

This list is by no means complete but it is a great place to start. This list not only benefits blind and sight impaired persons, it benefits everyone.

Access Technology

Blind and sight impaired persons use access technology to surf websites. They use screen readers and text magnifiers. For those who are either totally blind or do not have enough vision to see large print, the use of screen reader technology is the preferred method of surfing and for those who either have enough vision to read large print or can do so through the use of magnification, text magnifiers is the preferred method.

A developer needs to keep in mind that screen-reading software is unable to decipher and interpret any image. This includes icons, picture images and graphics of any kind. Accordingly, alt tags with appropriate descriptions of the above need to be deployed.

Screen reading software also has difficulty dealing with pop-up and drop down menus.

Accessible File Formats

Blind and sight impaired persons are unable to read PDF files that are not properly tagged. PDFs (portable document format) do not require font families and are at the end of the day just images. If tagging is not possible then the developer needs to offer the following types of files as alternate download. If in doubt include all of these --> .txt, .rtf, Microsoft Word formats and/or HTML

Readable Web Content

If the content is well organized with headings that clearly identify sections of text, then it makes life much easier for blind and sight impaired surfers. It also makes life easier for everyone. The use of headings and titles are the important variables here and if abbreviations are to be used throughout the website then a list of their meanings up front would greatly help.

Links - Easy to Navigate

This applies to links that are appropriately named and life is again made much easier if links are grouped in logical order and they should be constructed in such a way as to be easy to find.

Language - Easy to Understand

Language that is easy to understand greatly benefits not just the blind and sight impaired but also those whose first language is not English.

Forms - Easy to Complete

One of the most common errors made by developers are the design of fields and forms that need to be completed and/or filled in. Fields and forms need to be appropriately identified so that screen reading technology can correctly interpret and identify them to the blind and sight impaired user.

So there you have it. A good start for you and then there are other things for you to look at such as appropriate foreground and background colors and fonts but that's for another day.

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your free lance writer and roving reporter wishing you a terrific day.

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