Website Accessibility

Website Accessibility

July 16, 2009
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Website Accessibility is an important idea behind many Web standards, especially HTML.

This does not only mean allowing the web to be used by people with disabilities, but also allowing Web pages to be understood by people using browsers other than the usual ones - including screen readers/voice browsers that read Web pages aloud to people with sight impairments, Braille browsers that translate text into Braille, hand-held browsers with very little monitor space, teletext displays, and other unusual output devices like people surfing the web using mobile phones and PDA's, People using old browsers or old computers, those using slow internet connections, or those who don't speak or understand English fluently etc.

Different web browsers were developed to understand different sets of rules. This meant a site would work on one browser and not another, causing huge accessibility issues. These days, browser manufactures have started settling on a standard set of rules (called web standards). One of the most basic steps of making a site accessible is to create a site using these rules. By using these web standards you can help ensure your site is accessible by the widest range of browsers available.

The underlined statement is, making your website accessible to as many people as possible which is just sound business sense. Building in accessibility on a new site may cost a wee bit more of the overall budget and time, but the rewards both in terms of PR and ROI can be overwhelming. :)

Therefore, consistent use of Web Standards makes the www approachable with files being accessable and read by anyone, regardless of device they are using to access the Internet.

So, ideally a website that has been created using the Standards would be:Usable and up to date

  • Less bandwidth intense
  • Future-proof!!
  • Flexible/ easy to edit
  • Easier to maintain
  • Fast to Develop/ Fast Download
  • Compatible with new browser versions
  • Accessible
  • Various platforms compativle

Miscellaneous Points to keep in mind:

use the correct doctype

validate your code:
Web Standard Compliant code gives you the opportunity of validating your page with a validation service. Validators process your documents and present you with a list of errors. This makes finding and correcting errors a lot easier, and can save you a lot of time.Compliant documents can easily be converted to other formats, such as databases or Word documents. This allows for more versatile use of the information within documents on the WWW, and simplified migration to new systems - hardware as well as software - including devices such as Cell phones, T.v's and PDAs.

move presentation tags into CSS
(The ultimate aim for a website is to separate presentation (colours, fonts, layout, positioning) from content. This is achieved using CSS.

Most web standards are generally designed with forward- and backward-compatibility in mind - so that data using old versions of the standards will continue to work in latest browsers, and data using new versions of the standards will “gracefully degrade” to produce an acceptable result in older browsers.

Web standards offer a set of rules that every Web developer can follow, understand, and become familiar with: When one developer designs a site to the standards, another will be able to pick up where the former left off. This saves a lot of time and maintains a smooth and systematic workflow.

3 main aspects that a user is affected by:

Legal Issues
being passionate about delivering Quality.

Some advantages of following the rules:

You look professional
If your site is Web Standard Compatible, you certainly have an edge over your competition as Clients and visitors will be able to look at your work and know that you are a company who likes to keep up with technological updations and also that your knowledge base and skillsets are always current. It will help you to look truly Professional.

Clients make a better impression to their target audience
By using web standards and creating highly accessable websites, you help your clients cater to a wider range of people, where everybody can use their services or easily find information about their products. You will also avoid the bad publicity that can be caused by shutting out visitors like disabled people, Mac users, and mobile phone users. (a latest eg. in the news being that of

Increased potential traffic
Proper use of web standards ensures that your site works with the largest possible number of browsing devices such as Cell phones, T.v's and PDAs etc.

Quick Download Time & less Bandwidth Intense
Web Standards properly used helps to separate structure and content from design and presentation which makes it more compact. File sizes are reduced as a result visitors can download them faster. This inturn will reduce costs and enhance web experience!

The Accessibility Feature
Your site will be accessible to all people regardless of device they are using to access the Internet and also those with disabilities. Ensuring valid, streamlined, and semantic documents help create an accessible website.

Rich content delivered through neat, well-structured, and semantic markup is SEO friendly and will increase your SE rankings. Results in increased traffic from potential users! :)

Easy to maintain
The valuable use of CSS to control site layout makes it much easier to make design changes thru out the website. The Content should be easlily be able to separate fromt he pictures/images and graphical parts of the site. This is useful for instance when u need to view info on a mobile set.

Makes your content Future Proof!
if you separate content from design presentation and use current web standards, the content can still be read even after long time periods and can also be easily edited by any new person working on the project at a later date. Cross browser compatible if all browser also follow stds.

Sound Business Sense
"Creating Standard Compliant websites" can be used as a vital selling point to your potential clients. Afterall who doesnt want Increased Traffic, a faster website, increased SEO rankings, valued good publicity etc.?!!

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