April 22, 2003
New cool tool to fix your acronyms
Acrobot - Abbreviation & Acronym Generator - Lets you quickly
convert blocks of text that feature well-known abbreviations and acronyms
into something more accessible. This tool will wrap a
<acronym> tag around any
matched entries, thus, if you enter W3C,
it will be converted to
<abbr title="World Wide Web Consortium">W3C</abbr>.
April 15, 2003
links … except it’s only Tuesday
But there’s a bank holiday coming up and I’m knocking off early this week. So, it’ll be radio silence here for a few days. Until next week, here are a few interesting links for you to take a look at:
Here are a few of the benefits this template offers:
- It’s XHTML 1.0 Strict-compliant - By jumping straight to XHTML 1.0 Strict (instead of moving to XHTML 1.0 Transitional), you won’t have to go back and rework your code.
It’s CSS2-compliant - The layout of this template is CSS2-driven, so presentation is completely separate from the content. There are no TABLE tags and no spacer GIFs.
It meets all of Section 508’s guidelines for Web accessibility - There are currently 16 guidelines specified for the accessibility of Web sites and Web-based applications. This template complies with all 16.
It’s cross-browser-compatible with Internet Explorer, Netscape, and Opera - The template works perfectly in the latest versions of the major browsers and it degrades gracefully in the older ones.
It’s small and loads quickly - The code, style sheets, and graphics all weigh in at around 18 KB.
April 14, 2003
Neither of these myths are true. As happens so often, the truth lies in the middle.
Strangely enough, while I find myself wholeheartedly agreeing with the sentiment of the article mentioned above, I find myself disagreeing with another of Peter-Paul Koch’s articles featured in evolt, in which he argues that coding to web standards does not equal forward compatibility. While some of what he has to say rings true (after all, this site is coded to standards and fails dismally on a hiptop display), I think that the general rule about coding to standards increases the likelihood of forward compatibility is still true.
April 10, 2003
The new issue of Made For All is on the shelves. Actually, that’s a damn lie, it’s not on the shelf at all, it’s one of those new-fangled web site things. Apparently you can publish whatever you like nowadays without several trips down to KallKwik/Kinkos. All at the touch of a button. Anyway, enough of that - go read the interview with Joe Clark, my piece about South By Southwest and Tim’s piece about making web graphics accessible.
Digital Rights Wrong for Accessibility
Are you familiar with Digital Rights Management? Otherwise known as DRM, it’s all about protecting copyrighted works from being unlawfully copied. Whether you agree with the law is another matter - much of this will be enforced however much you protest (and if you do want to protest, you can start by checking out the Electronic Frontier Foundation).
Among the many problems with ever more restrictive copyright laws are the issues that it can present for accessibility. Joe Clark has looked into the subject and presents his findings in a piece entitled "Accessibility implications of digital rights management". This is not a piece covering web accessibility, however - it is primarily looking at the implications for captioning, television set-top boxes and so on. Regardless, the issues raised are important and should send out a warning to anyone in this field who may be thinking that increased copyright protection is for ‘the good of the people’.
Yahoo gets Bowman treatment
Mr Bowman, do
like your table-free layouts, don’t you? Doug’s been at it again (quote:
"Alright. It was low-hanging fruit. I couldn’t resist."). This time he’s put together a table-free version of the new Yahoo search, demonstrating that it could have been built using valid XHTML and CSS.
Why does it always take individuals like Doug to show these things are possible - I mean, aren’t Yahoo supposed to be pioneers?
Spotted at netdiver today, there’s a free download that you may find useful. It’s entitled Design for Web Accessibility 1.0, and is a standalone set of pages that explain some of the issues. It’s not exactly comprehensive, but you may still find it of use as an introduction and may like the fact that it’s packaged up in an executable. Ironically, it is not, in itself, accessible. Here’s what they have to say about it on download.com:
"This program teaches you how to html code for greater web accessibility by the disabled. It gives code examples for table headers, alt-tags, and other html elements. This is a totally free product, given to help people code for greater web accessibility. Note: Because this ebook is in its own viewer, it is NOT web accessible."
Note that this is not actually a new addition to download.com - it’s been there since March of last year, but is new to me.
Learn for free
Meanwhile, over at westciv.com they’re offering free courses in CSS2. They know a thing or two about the topic, having brought us the Style Master CSS editor, Layout Master web page editor and the ever informative site House Of Style. From their site:
"CSS Level 2 takes up where our very successful foundation course CSS Level 1 leaves off. Over the weeks you’ll get to know CSS at the highest level, with browser support, accessibility and usability as a constant. You get to see not just the CSS positioning properties, but also a number of different approaches to page layout with this important web standard."
April 4, 2003
new CSS links for your collection
Adrian Holovaty had a shock when he visited a site recently and found a navigation bar that was 50kb and extremely kludgy, so he decided to re-write it using CSS and ordered lists and then post it for all to plunder. I’m posting this here because his solution helps in a number of ways as far as accessibility is concerned:
- it’s valid mark-up and therefore device-independent
- it’s navigable with a keyboard - no mouse required
- it’s screen-reader friendly (I tried in Jaws)
- it’s a small filesize and demonstrates how much leaner your code can be
- the entire block is clickable, not just the text (much like the navigation on Accesify) - which is better for everyone, particularly people with motor deficiencies (or just plain lazy people like myself)
It could be refined even further to improve the accessibility side of things (and wouldn’t take to much work)
- title attributes on links that have sub-menus to indicate that there are sub-items ("this item contains sub-menus - hit return to reveal these links")
- visually, a state change on the arrows would be good - perhaps a right arrow when not expanded, a down arrow when expended (much like the tree structure in Mac OS)
If I get time I may pick up on this and try to add in the above, although time is something I have little of at the moment, so don’t hold your breath!
Good work Adrian.
If you find some oddities while developing pages and need to know how your browser is rendering your code, try using the DOCTYPEs and Web Page Rendering tool at Copysense. Having selected a doctype, you simply press a button and it will tell you how the browser you are currently using renders your page (as in quirks or strict mode).
April 3, 2003
You need to know about this
From Need to Know (ntk.net):
“If you’re keeping up with our pettier news stories, you’ll
recall that document recently published by the BBC all about
how to make websites accessible by not using proprietary
standards. The one they released in PDF. Well, with all the
speed of a publically-funded body, they got on the case and
produced an alternate version. As you can see from the link,
the BBC have now released it in Word format. Well, at least
Well, sarcasm humour aside (I have to admit, it’s pretty funny that someone should make a report about accessibility available in PDF format), the report is truly worth a read (even at just under 2 MB). The report comes in at 74 pages long and include many useful nuggets of information. If you are actively considering commissioning a similar report, perhaps you should look at this first. Perhaps you don’t need a report after all? Thanks, BBC, for making this publicly available.
Bob talks about accessbility
Nigel Peck of MIS Web Design interviews Bob Regan, Accessibility Product Manager at Macromedia. Bob details progress to date and suggests how accessibility may be implemented in future product lines.
It’s a good article with very full responses from Bob - go take a look now.