What is Website Accessibility and How do I check if my Website is accessible to people with disabilities
Website Accessibility is the process of rendering a website so that all and any users are able to access the web page content regardless of location, experience, or disability. This involves building you website to internationally recognized accessibility standards.
Before designing a website keep in mind the accessibility factor.
An accessible website indicates the degree to which a website is usable, especially by people with disabilities such as the sight impaired. One of the easiest and the simplest methods to check accessibility of your website is to run through an HTML checker. A HTML checker is designed to check for all kinds of accessibility issues whether it is related to the browser compatibility or a disability access related problem. One way to help make a website accessible is to always use descriptive ALT tags for all pictures on the site. Another accessible website design tip is to always use clean and validated web page coding which makes the page easily readable by screen readers.
The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), part of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), is an international consortium devoted to promoting accessibility on the web. Their Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are generally accepted as the definitive guidelines on web accessibility and accessible design techniques, and many other apparent sets of standards and guidelines actually refer back to the WAI guidelines.
Vision Australia offer webmasters and website designers a very handy free tool for checking web-page and website accessibility and compliance for vision impaired including people who are color blind. The U.K. Disability Discrimination Act says that web sites must be made accessible to disabled people.
The Web Accessibility page checker comes in the form of a toolbar for webmasters used to aid humans in the web accessibility evaluation process, and is provided for free by the Accessible Information Solutions (AIS) team of Vision Australia. The toolbar has a lot of functions for examining a web page's content and code in regards to website accessibility and disability standards for website compliance. The website accessiblity toolbar can be added to Internet Explorer and Firefox.
The Web Accessibility Toolbar was developed to assess how closely a web page meets a specific set of standards, XHTML, HTML and CSS markup, Accessibility and SEO, plus aid manual examination of web pages for a variety of aspects of accessibility.
To check if your website is accessible to the disabled one tool you can use is the Website Accessibility Toolbar that offers a range of functions including:
Evaluates your web pages against subset of the WAI guidelines. These guidelines form the basis of most global legislation relating to accessibility for people with disabilities.
Reveal 'headers' and 'id' complex data table mark-up.
Identify components of a web page
Facilitate the use of 3rd party online applications
Simulate user experiences
Section 508 Website Accessibility Checking * (see below)
Provide links to references and additional resources
There are also many features that make it accessible to people using assistive technology.
Create such mark-up either manually or automatically.
Create a linear version of the data table content.
Page Load Speed Checker - Displays the page size and approximate download times at various modem speeds.
Color Blindness - Re-colorizes the page into a palette that closely resembles the typical palette available to a person having a red/green color vision deficiency. See our Website Color Blind Spectrum Chart for Web Page Design
Color Contrast Analyzer - Is used to check foreground and background color combinations to determine if they provide good color visibility. Determining "color visibility" is based on algorithms suggested by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
Lynx Viewer - Opens the current web page in a Lynx text browser simulator allowing webmasters to see what their pages will look like when viewed with Lynx, a free text only web browser.
Table Borders - Shows borders of all tables and table cells on the current web page
Show Image Maps - Checks for the presence of client-side and server-side image maps.
View Web Page Source - Shows the source code of the current web-page in Notepad.
GIF Flicker Tester - tests the flicker rate of an animated picture to determine if the picture is in a range that may effect users with Photosensitive Epilepsy.
Validate HTML code - Checks the HTML code of the current web page(s) using the W3C HTML Validator.
Validate Framed Web Pages
Validate CSS - Checks the CSS code of the current page using the W3C CSS Validator
Enable/disable hot keys
Displays accesskey attributes found on the current page
Image List - Displays (in a new window) all pictures and a list of all images along with the corresponding img element.
Browser Re-sizer - See how a web page looks when at a different screen resolution - Resizes the current browser window to sizes: 640 pixels by 480 pixels - 800 by 600 - 1024 by 768, and 1280 by1024. Screen Size Tester also provides information about screen sizes for a range of browser and screen resolutions or platforms.
Toggle Display Of Hot keys - Show/hide hot keys.
Grey-scale - Renders the current web page content in black and white
W3C Link Checker - Checks anchors (hyperlinks) in a HTML or XHTML website to find broken links.
WDG HTML Validator - Checks the HTML code of current page(s) using the WDG HTML Validator and can validate all pages on a web site.
W3C HTML Tidy - Check Repair HTML tool - Checks the HTML code of the current web page and offers the option to view or download a repaired "tidied" version of the page using HTML Tidy.
Disable CSS - Disables a web sites external style sheets and removes the 'style' attribute (if present) from all page elements.
Test Styles CSS - Edit and apply styles to the current page on the fly (in a new window) includes drop-down list of style rules found within style sheets referenced from the current page. The styles will persist across pages (within the current site) while the style editor window is left open.
To download the Web Accessibility page checker toolbar please visit the Vision Australia Web Accessibility page checker at www.visionaustralia.org.au/info.aspxpage=614
What is Section 508
Section 508 is a government standard that provides the direction on how to make information technology accessible.
Section 508 requires US federal agencies to make their information accessible to all people with disabilities, including web sites that are produced for government agencies. All state agencies and vendors, whether US or foreign, that receive federal funds under the Assistive Technology Act of 1998 are also required to comply with Section 508 requirements.
Section 508 Standards
A text equivalent for every non-text element shall be provided (e.g., via "alt tags", "longdesc", or in element content).
When electronic forms are designed to be completed on-line, the form shall allow people using assistive technology to access the information, field elements, and functionality required for completion and submission of the form.
A method shall be provided that permits users to skip repetitive navigation links.
Pages shall be designed to avoid causing the screen to flicker with a frequency greater than 2 Hz and lower than 55 Hz.
Markup shall be used to associate data cells and header cells for data tables that have two or more logical levels of row or column headers.
When a timed response is required, the user shall be alerted and given sufficient time to indicate more time is required.
Documents shall be organized so they are readable without requiring an associated style sheet.
When pages utilize scripting languages to display content, or to create interface elements, the information provided by the script shall be identified with functional text that can be read by assistive technology.
Redundant text links shall be provided for each active region of a server-side image map.
Equivalent alternatives for any multimedia presentation shall be synchronized with the presentation.
Web pages shall be designed so that all information conveyed with color is also available without color, for example from context or markup.
Client-side image maps shall be provided instead of server-side image maps except where the regions cannot be defined with an available geometric shape.
When a web page requires that an applet, plug-in or other application be present on the client system to interpret page content, the page must provide a link to a plug-in or applet that complies.
Row and column headers shall be identified for data tables.
Frames shall be titled with text that facilitates frame identification and navigation.
A text-only page, with equivalent information or functionality, shall be provided to make a web site comply with the provisions of this part, when compliance cannot be accomplished in any other way.
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Famous People with Disabilities - Well known people with disabilities and conditions who contributed to society.