Latest Accessibility News on Accessify

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A Workaround to That MS Update

As you have probably read elsewhere (e.g. Tom Gilmore, Jeffrey Zeldman, WaSP, What Do I Know), Microsoft have revealed how they are going to cripple their browser in an attempt to avoide infringing the patent that they have already been sued a cool $500m+ for. There is developer documentation already available out there - Apple have already provided the following:

One of the recommendations is to use an external script to write the <embed> tag - this is quite common practice anyway, normally for reasons of sniffing for the correct version of a plug-in and serving the appropriate content. However, others may need to convert plain old HTML into a script. And here’s where we can help …

First things first: putting anything into a <script> block causes accessibility problems - what if scripts are turned off? What if the browser does not support scripting? Well, I take a pragmatic approach - that being that the majority of content that would be linked in this manner is likely (but not certain) to be largely inaccessible anyway. If this does not ring true to you, I apologise. But if we take it that we’re looking at embedding Flash, it’s highly unlikely to be fully accessible. I won’t run through all the reasons why here - let’s get to the point!

If you do decide to embed an external file such as a Flash movie, and you do decide to use a <script> block to do that, be sure to make proper use of the <noscript> element. But hey, you knew that anyway, right?

Anil Dash writes today: “I’d guess most companies will start seeing a rash of error reports (”Why do I get a popup on your site?”) around January, and then they’ll want to start moving all their OBJECT tags to javascript document.writes. Macromedia’s announced that they’ll be creating a tool to automate this, I assume Microsoft will as well, and it would seem likely for Real and Apple’s QuickTime group to follow suit.”

Well, there’s already one such tool available on this very site - HTML to JavaScript convertor.

As an example, here’s a before-and-after, performed simply by copying/pasting and pressing one button:

<OBJECT CLASSID="yahtzee.py" CODETYPE="application/x-python" STANDBY="Ready to play Yahtzee?" TITLE="My Yahtzee Game">

</OBJECT>

<OBJECT CLASSID="java:Yahtzee.class" CODETYPE="application/java" WIDTH=400 HEIGHT=250 STANDBY="Ready to play Yahtzee?" TITLE="My Yahtzee Game">

</OBJECT>

<OBJECT DATA="yahtzee.gif" TYPE="image/gif" TITLE="A Yahtzee animation" WIDTH=200 HEIGHT=100>

Yahtzee is my <EM>favorite</EM> game!

</OBJECT>

Gets converted to:

<script language="JavaScript" type="text/javascript">

<!--

function writeJS() {

var str='';

str+='<OBJECT CLASSID="yahtzee.py" CODETYPE="application\/x-python" STANDBY="Ready to play Yahtzee?" TITLE="My Yahtzee Game">';

str+='<\/OBJECT>';

str+='<OBJECT CLASSID="java:Yahtzee.class" CODETYPE="application\/java" WIDTH=400 HEIGHT=250 STANDBY="Ready to play Yahtzee?" TITLE="My Yahtzee Game">';

str+='<\/OBJECT>';

str+='<OBJECT DATA="yahtzee.gif" TYPE="image\/gif" TITLE="A Yahtzee animation" WIDTH=200 HEIGHT=100>';

str+='Yahtzee is my <EM>favorite<\/EM> game!';

str+='<\/OBJECT>';

str+='';

document.write(str);

}

writeJS();

//-->

</script>

It’s a basic tool, admittedly, but it may be useful for some. I leave you to decide.

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments Off Posted by Ian on Thursday, October 9, 2003

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AccessifyForum.com: European Legislation

mikea has provided a nice overview of the European legislation on the forum:

AccessifyForum.com: European Legislation

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments Off Posted by Accessify on Wednesday, October 8, 2003

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Accessible Showcase

Some time ago I put together a small article demonstrating that accessible
sites did not need to be pig-ugly
- they could actually be things of beauty!
Initially, I was hoping to get examples of large corporate sites but I’ve since
come to the conclusion that this is about as likely as me growing a second head
.
Nevertheless, I have been sent lots of examples of accessible sites that a worth
a look, but there’s just one thing to clarify …

A CSS-based site does not automatically mean an accessible one. Some people
have
pointed this out to me before, as it is not clear from the previous article
that this is the case. It just so happens that the sites are both accessible
and table-free CSS-based designs.A table-based design may actually
be far more accessible for a large audience - for example, the content may have
far more navigation tools to take you around the page and the content may be
excellent, well-written copy that is totally relevent to the person browsing
the site and as such may be far better than a CSS-based layout.

There’s no hard-and-fast
rule, but the general trend seems to be that the people who have taken steps
to learn how to make a site accessible usually don’t stop at simply providing
alt attributes and providing <noscript> elements - they invariably go
‘the whole hog’ and take the accessible site to its extreme. Thus nearly all
of the sites submitted will work on a handheld almost as well as they might
on a PC/Mac. Anyway, now that I’ve got that disclaimer out of the way, shall
we look at what I’ve been sent?

Each of the entries below include quotes from the people who submitted the
URLs - I leave it up to you to decide how genuine the claims are or whether!

  • Trinity College Oxford [Matthew ... erm ... something]. Matthew suggested this site as well as his version of an Odeon cinema listings site: "An example of how they could do things properly"
  • BHP Billiton [David
    McDonald]. “We tried to reach Priority Level 1 of the W3C WCAG and I think
    we came fairly close. The site can be read in text only browsers. There are
    alternate links to the site map and the content areas for navigation using
    non-javascript browsers. Font size can be altered by the user and we used
    access keys for all forms. The forms can also be sumbitted by non-javascript
    browsers. Tabbed navigation via the keyboard is also enabled.”. The problem is that on my browser - Firebird 0.6 - the navigation failed to work completely. Ah well
  • Kokhaviv Publications
    [Alexander Becker]. “Kokhaviv publications is a non-profit, Germany-based
    think-tank: 15.000+ pages; XHTML 1.0 Strict & CSS; 50+ RDF-feeds; Section
    508-accessibility … The redesign is still in progress and performed live.”
  • Guru Instruction
    [Scott Kosman]. “… a completely standards-compliant, accessible site
    … I was contracted to rebuild their website a few weeks ago. Their old site
    was filled with kludgy DHTML hacks and 1998-era browser sniffers. Now it’s
    all built in XHTML 1.0 Transitional code, and has been getting really good
    reviews from studetns, faculty, and other industry personnel.”
  • Quote.com [Bryan O'Neill].
    "I used to be the designer for this site, which just released using web
    standards. I’ve gotten feedback from a visually-impaired user, so I guess
    that means we did something correct." More
    information on the project available here
    .
  • Web Solutions [Bob Sawyer].
    "WebSolutions of Georgia recently underwent a major redesign, adding
    in accessibility features in addition to a tableless, css-based layout." [Ian comments - "I like this one!"]
  • University of Minnesota Duluth
    [Laura Carlson] “I originally designed and created this web site in 1998.
    Since then I have continually update the maintained the site. This past summer
    I redesigned the site with a version of our new campus templates in mind.
    My goals [were to make it] XHTML Strict, WCAG Triple A (AAA) plus 508 (the
    old pages were just 508) and no layout tables (positioning via css floats)”
  • Hexatex [Sasa Velickovic]
    "It could be more accessible, but I think our site is more accessible
    than the majority of sites of Web design agencies." [Ian comments: "Possibly ... but possibly not. I don't see any skip navigation links and the design is OK but not up to the standard that design agencies would insist upon"]
  • More sites have been submitted in the forum discussion …
Filed under: Accessibility
Comments Off Posted by Ian on Tuesday, October 7, 2003

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Ian’s Getting Married

Ian hasn’t mentioned it here so I thought I would, Ian’s popped the question. Congratulations and good luck.

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments Off Posted by Accessify on Friday, October 3, 2003
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