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Male LSW
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Some basic Accessibility questions [Updated: 02/28/07]

Some basic Accessibility questions

What do you mean by "Accessibility"? :
It is in theory rather easy to understand in English, it is making a web site accessible. I however like the German term, it makes it a little more clear, "Barrierefrei", or for us, "Barrier Free". So accessibility is creating a web site with no barriers, now all is clear right? Maybe?

Ok, what do you mean by barriers? :
To understand what barriers exist you need only imagine that 1/2 of your visitors are not healthy, they have disabilities, illnesses and even use other software and have habits and preferences that are not the same as you. Many are older and have arthritis and poor eyesight, others have missing or crippled extremities, some are color blind (estimated 1 in 10), some have epilepsy, dyslexia, cognitive problems, maybe they cannot read well, maybe English is their second language. Maybe they have a old weak PC, maybe they are blind? Just as steps and narrow doors are a barrier to wheelchair users and the elderly, so are many things you do in your site barriers to any of the groups mentioned above.

Just a few examples to help make it clearer:

  • "MTV In your face" style Flash animation - this is what I call extreme fast, sometimes really excessive flash design styles. Flash can, with its fast color changes and strobe effects, actually trigger a seizure in a epileptic that can land them in the Hospital. It also distracts the attention of the user who may have attention problems, cognitive problems that make text hard to understand when read, or even people who are simply nervous and antsy and trying to concentrate while this animation is screaming for you to watch it instead. Also any information within a Flash movie is rarely available for blind visitors.

  • Red text on a black background, or important text made red - The majority of color blind people have trouble with the color red, it looks like a Dark Olive Green, now imagine that on a black background, or important text being dark olive green in the middle of black text. It can be hard to read or easily overseen.

  • Text Formating - Dyslexics often have trouble with text being experienced as backwards or even upside down. Long blocks of unending text in massive wide paragraphs can be hard to read and understand. Centered and justified text can be hard to read as a Dyslexics eyes may drop down one line while reading causing confusion.

  • Bouncing fast animations - Have you ever been to a site with this and maybe it bothered you a little as you tried to concentrate on hard text or heavy information? Now imagine you have reading problems or maybe you even have a attention deficit or some other concentration problem and then there are all these bouncy things calling to your eyes to watch them and not the content you came for?

  • Visually Impaired - this can be either blindness or poor vision. many with poor vision will have trouble with large blocks of text, maybe portions of text are to light against the background to hard to read. The text may be to small and you have created the site so they can not increase the size. Blind users will most often have the content read to them over loud speakers like a audio book. Background music can make understanding hard, missing image descriptions can confuse or simply not pass on visual information not accessible to them. They will be forced to listen to your entire menu again and again on each and every page.


The Blind Surf?:
Yes, of course. Studies suggest the blind actually spend more time and more money on the internet than most of us, the internet has opened the world to them and they can surf and shop and access information faster. Ever see how fat and heavy a 1000 page brail book is?

Well, there are not many blind people visiting my site. :
Really? Are you sure? Positive? How do you know? You see, even if you check your stats for your site, no statistics tell you if a visitor uses a screenreader. You in fact can never know how many blind/visually impaired users use your site any more than you can know if I have a broke arm. But I guarantee you that you do have blind visitors. They are called search engines. They do not care how pretty your site looks, they only care about the availability of your content and the structure around it, so by building sites blind users can easily use, you make it easier for search engines too.

Ok, blind people can surf and my site, I should build a extra site just for them? :
No, not at all. The answer is really in using logic and correct HTML. Use Standards and use CSS. Standards call for you to sperate the look from structure and content. By using CSS you can "Skin" your site. Any one page should be logically written, when this is the case a person with disabilities will have little trouble. Use correct semantic code to create a logical frame for your text. It will not be pretty but it will make sense. Then you can add images and colors ad positioning to make the site "Look Good". It will still make sense, but it will be pretty. A blind user will not have to deal with the visual stuff, they will receive the pure information... all from the same page.

But won't that make my site look ugly? :
No, accessibility makes you think differently and some old tricks will not work anymore, true enough. But it also challenges you to find new ways to do a good looking site without blocking it from users with disabilities. The only limitation is the designers own creativity.

Ok, I can understand what you mean, but it is to expensive... :
No, it is does not have to be when done logically. If you set out from the beginning to make a accessible site, then building in support and avoiding barriers is no more harder than doing it with no support and with barriers. But it has to be considered from the beginning as it will effect the images and colors you use as much as the code. Now trying to retrograde you current site to be accessible, if done for real will be expensive and time consuming, same if you have to pay for a new development. But some simple things can be done to improve your current site with little trouble. If you do go the better route of launching a whole new accessible site it will be better for you, and yes cost more money to pay the designers if they are not on the payroll, but no one said you have to be quiet about it. Use it to your advantage, make a public relations show of it. Announce it in press releases and commercials, let the world know you are dedicated to supporting customers regardless of disabilities. Attract PR, attract new customers and get the word out... and force your competitors to have to catch up with you or loose their customers. Gather in the disabled visitors your competitors turn away. Re-launch your site and your image.

I am not convinced and there is no law forcing me to either... :
Well you are right to an extent. But why not do it because it is the right thing to do? Also no law today does not mean no law tomorrow, so why not be one of the first, so when the others follow you can say "well we have been accessible for years".

But there are laws as well and more on the way. Most commonly discussed are section 508 in the US, what it generally does is require government sites to be accessible. However it also requires commercial contractors to be accessible as well, so if you ever hope to have a contract with the US Government, your site must be accessible as well.

Then there is the UK's DDA (Disability Discrimination Act). Started in 1995 with a grace period till October 2004. Now this covers the requirement to see that the commercial sector does not discriminate against the disabled. Web sites are not specifically noted, however it does say if you offer a service this must be accessible, so in theory if you offer a service over your web site you could be sued under the DDA. So far no cases have happened yet.

Germany also has a law (BITV) requiring German Governmental sites to be accessible including local Government agencies.

[Update 02/28/07] :
Sweden has a law covering accessibility in Government web sites and September 1, 2006 a new law went into effect in Holland that would seem to be the best thought out and strict law requiring accessibility in Government web sites (456bereastreet.com & quirksmode.org ).

So you see many countries besides these have passed laws and many of us expect the US to require commercial sites to be accessible too in the future. There are those who are now using the DDA to scare customers into hiring the for new sites. This is unacceptable, it is scare tactics. These organizations are not professional and should be ignored. There is not threat at this time of you being sued under the DDA, it has not yet been successfully used in court. But you do need to be aware that this may one day change. To date their have been court cases due to inaccessible web sites, best know were Ramada, PriceLine and the Australian Olympics site. More will come to court in the future though I suspect most will be against large corporations.


Where can I learn more about accessibility? :
There are some good places on the net. First of course you are always welcome to post under the accessibility board at Killersites.

The Guild of Accessible Web Designers (GAWDS) and Accessify.com are to great places to start. The direct source is the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 1.0 ), there are 66 points currently in three categories of 1.0 (awaiting release of 2.0 in the near future), Priority 1 Must be met. Priority 2 should really be met to ensure the largest number of visitors. Priority 3 is not required but you should try to meet it as well, some smaller groups may still have problems if not met.



How can I find a accessible web designer? :
You could try a search engine, I would then suggest the Open Directory Project , here you simply go to the internet category, developers, and eventually you will find a listing for accessible web development. Unlike tradition search engines burying you in worthless returns, you use logic to find specifically what you are looking for. Most likely the easiest way however would be to visit GAWDS , all members are listed with reference sites. It does not declare how good they are, but if they joined GAWDS, then they are at least dedicated to accessibility and have a few sites that prove their interest. We have members from all over the world.
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[Edit 4 times, last edit by LSW at Feb 28, 2007 10:41:12 PM]
[Aug 21, 2005 8:01:56 AM] Show Printable Version of Post    View Member Profile    Send Private Message [Link] Report threatening or abusive post: please login first  Go to top 
Male tpattison
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Re: Some basic Accessibility questions

Well done LSW! applause

I found this interesting tool regarding color blindness:
Vischeck

Enter the URL of a page and select the type of color blindness you want to simulate. The result is the page, with images, as seen by a clour blind person.
Has a few problems with background images but otherwise ok.

There is also a Photoshop plugin available here.


Tim
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[Edit 1 times, last edit by tpattison at Aug 21, 2005 8:59:48 AM]
[Aug 21, 2005 8:36:46 AM] Show Printable Version of Post    View Member Profile    Send Private Message [Link] Report threatening or abusive post: please login first  Go to top 
Male shelfimage
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Re: Some basic Accessibility questions

@LSW: Yes, thank-you for this article! Very helpful information.

@tpattison: I downloaded the plugin -thanks for the link.

I never realized that I wouldn't be able to tell a visit from a screen reader in web stats. Thinking about it now, most stats will only show IE, NN, Mozilla and "Other".
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[Aug 21, 2005 12:23:49 PM] Show Printable Version of Post    View Member Profile    Send Private Message    mainewebworks    mainewebworks [Link] Report threatening or abusive post: please login first  Go to top 
Male LSW
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Re: Some basic Accessibility questions

Keep in mind that the defaut for years for Opera was to show itself as IE. So many IE hits may be Opera users unless they told it to identify itself as Opera. This may be changed in Opera 8, not sure.
[Aug 21, 2005 1:16:56 PM] Show Printable Version of Post    View Member Profile    Send Private Message [Link] Report threatening or abusive post: please login first  Go to top 
Male Les
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Re: Some basic Accessibility questions

The in-thing these days is the accessibility issues, a short time ago it was the flag carrying Firefox brigade, and shortly before that ---- the wonder of the age zealots with CSS ---

The enemy of the present age is people who use tables and the dreaded WYSIYG editors, I dont know if anyone has noticed but 99.9% NOW hand CODE cool

You really have to sit back and smile smile smile

It was refreshing to see an article written on here by stef (The boss here on Killersites about the Web Design Myths ---

I have no idea how many people have disability problems with the web, as I know NOT one of my old army veterans, young Army Veterans or the wives and daughters who have problems, because if they had i would --- as they would ask for help cool

OR any of the members of several groups I am a member on MSN -

I know its the law under Section 508 ?? but where are the figures ??

Are Web Designers going over the top ??

Ah Well
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[Aug 21, 2005 5:40:21 PM] Show Printable Version of Post    View Member Profile    Send Private Message [Link] Report threatening or abusive post: please login first  Go to top 
Male LSW
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Re: Some basic Accessibility questions

Problem is Les, you are asking for statistics. Those are risky to trust. my site now has 34% firefox users ans 35% IE. But that is MY site, you quoted yourself before that W3Schools has other statistics.

Or my Favorite: "Did you know there is a 100% fatality among those who eat bread?" Ban Bread!

10% of people on the planet are color blind, 90% of those have trouble with the color red.

Then we are talking about Registered disabilities... there is no law that says they must register or join such a organizations as usually publish statistics. Then there are those that do not register, maybe they can see some things, then that does not include people with such poor eyesight that they can see but preffer to use ascreen reader so it is not so stressfull for them with their poor vision.

Same for all other disabilities, I could give a statistic about how many handicapped are in a given place, but a disabled person missing a leg will not hae a problem surfing, but a disabled person with a missing arm or limited mobility will.

What of the extreme sportler, those with Broken Mouse arms ofr a few weeks or months, they may feel tabing is easier then Mouse with the unaccustomed arm... they also show in no statistics.

What of M$N? Look at WD, how often do we complain about people writing in all caps and they reply it is easier to read? Then clearly they have a visual disability that effects surfing. What of Dee? How often does he mention he has problems with sites do to his Dyslexia?

I worked with a woman last year for the Gov. site that told me one weekend her husband was in the hospital, he opened up a Flash site and failed to close it fast enough, it set off sesieurs as he is a Epileptic, 7 days in the hospital because someone thought Flash was cool and did not warn anyone that they were opening a fast Flash animated site.

Keep in mind the following when I offer percentages, these are for but that disability. You have to post all the percentages we may post here and add them together as we are talking all possible


Berlin's organization for the Blind states these (only those registered):
ca. 5,000 Blind citizens
ca. 17,000 Visually impaired

British Dyslexic Association:
4% of the Population is severely Dyslexic
6% mild to moderate

10% of the world population is said to be Color Blind.

Deutsche Blinden und Sehbehindertenverband (DBSV) for Germany
155,000 Legally Blind
500,000 Visually Impaired

Deutsche Epilepsievereinigung e.V.
800,000 Germans suffer from Epilepsy

Rheumatism is a catagory name for ca. 400 seperate illnesses that cause sever pain in the joints that can make navagating a web site with a mouse very difficult. Every third adult suffers from or will suffer from some form of Rheumatism/Arthritus.

England :
Blind - 160,000
Visualy Impaired - 160,000

Scottland :
38,000 Blind/Visually Impaired

Whales :
Blind 9,902
Visually Impaired 9,905

European Counties - listing per country.

9% of Germans suffer some form of psychological Disabilities. That could include things like cognitive problems, emmotional problems... it is rather vague and not all effect web design.



Ok, so we have for instance 10% color blind in England, add now 4% and 6% Dyslexics and add that and we have 20% of the population needs some support. If we add say for now (till I have numbers) 1% blind + double so many, so 2% visually Impaired, we now have 23%, so almost 1/4 of the British population. Add now, epileptics, those with missing arms, hands, fingers that ake mouse use hard. Those with temporary broken bones, those with Athritus. Add those with reading problems, english not the mother language, attention defficets & ADHS. Add those with other forms of Cognitive problems. Then add those in outlying areas without Broadband, using other user agets like PDA's and Cell Phones. Using older PC's r using company or open PC's like in Libraries that may have JS turned off.

I bet if I got all these numbers in %, I could prove that well over 100% of all Brits require accessible web sites... with Statistical proof! But these are the same mathmatical statistics that say Bread kills and that I do have 3 children, I have 2.5 as an American, but live in Germany so it should be 1.7 children.

Then say I open a web site for Blind Berliners to meet with Blind Americans. Bet I will have likely a 80% hit statistic for screenreaders and blind visiors! How is that for a statistic, where DSD may never ever have a Blind visitor. So it depends on the site, but where will you get a statistic showing how many blind visitors come to your site Les? How will you know how many use the keyboard? How many are Color Blind? How will you know unless they tell you? You think they will write and say "Hi Les, just visted your site, by the way I am blind and have arthritus. Also dyslexic, but since I went blind that is not important. Just so you know and can create statistics."

Few will tell you or complain. They just leave and do not come back. They may say "Hey Les, visited your site. So nice to have a site that I as a blind person can use. Thank you so much for caring!" Then again how many of you ever write a webmaster just to say "Hey! Love your site" or Hey, you site doesn't work, the fllowing links are broken...". So why should the disabled tell you if they visit your site and with which disabilities?

I will look for more and have made a call for other regions like the UK and USA for people living their to pass along their statistics. But again staistics are not really viable and not always correct. I am in theory visually impaired dur to my glasses though it is hardly a disability... however it is not 20/20. I do like my text a tad bigger at this resolution, but I will not appear in a statistic.

I will post other number in this thread as I recieve them.
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[Edit 5 times, last edit by LSW at Aug 22, 2005 7:47:25 AM]
[Aug 22, 2005 5:12:01 AM] Show Printable Version of Post    View Member Profile    Send Private Message [Link] Report threatening or abusive post: please login first  Go to top 
Male LSW
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Re: Some basic Accessibility questions

As for your "99% Hand Code" comment... there is a hot debate over at SitePoint right now on that subject biggrin

Why handcode? - 4 pages and growing fast.
[Aug 22, 2005 7:51:00 AM] Show Printable Version of Post    View Member Profile    Send Private Message [Link] Report threatening or abusive post: please login first  Go to top 
Male LSW
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Re: Some basic Accessibility questions

May I also add that say 1% blind users may not sound like enough to worry about... But if you are or are working for a e-commerce site, and competition is rough on the interent... You are say, in Berlin, can you really afford to lock out 5,000/17,000 potential customers and let them go to the competition?Or would you rather have them locked out of the competitions site and come to yours?

I would love to have 5,000 web design customers.
[Aug 22, 2005 9:03:21 AM] Show Printable Version of Post    View Member Profile    Send Private Message [Link] Report threatening or abusive post: please login first  Go to top 
Male Les
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rose Re: Some basic Accessibility questions

HI LSW

Thanks for the link mate -- I have read these sort of threads before, its very rare if anyone admits to using a WYSIWYG !!
everyone hand codes, BUT do they ??

Is it a lot of HOT AIR, I think that college trained coders are brilliant, as long as the exam is taken in a room with a PC No internet and NO cheat sheets available, but perhaps in this day and age, its a multiple question exam --- which is does NOT strain the mind as it would if the students are told to create a web page without their CHEAT sheets.

I learnt html coding, before i used frontpage, and I think it was the best thing to do --

I was just saying LSW that NO ONE I know within the groups and personally who have computers have NEVER ever complained about anything they cant see or any color problems, or disability problems in using a PC, as you know most of my mates are ex Brit veterans who are far and wide throughout the world am just being practical ---- hundreds of mates, who love the use of the PC and surf daily on the net. we are close net family of men and women ranging from their thirties through to late eighties.

Iwish you all the best in the world on your quest rose

Les
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[Aug 22, 2005 9:04:31 AM] Show Printable Version of Post    View Member Profile    Send Private Message [Link] Report threatening or abusive post: please login first  Go to top 
Male LSW
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Re: Some basic Accessibility questions

Hey Les, don't make the same mistake so many are in that thread. Many do use editors to Handcode, I use DW t handcode because I like the management tools.

Yea there are some hardcore types who use Notepad. But in the end what most of us say is simpy Handcoding is better than using a WYSIWYG in Layout Mode, that where you just drag stuff around your screen. That causes lots of junk.

Try downloading on of my sites to your harddrive (browser menu bar) then open it is layout view of a WYSIWYG editor and compare to the browser view. sick

Even Dreamweaver simply can not deal with all CSS layouts. Handcoding is a must.

Cheers
[Aug 22, 2005 9:33:07 AM] Show Printable Version of Post    View Member Profile    Send Private Message [Link] Report threatening or abusive post: please login first  Go to top 
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