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Accessible Web Design

To be accessible, web pages and sites must obey the rules of accessibility doctrine. These accessibility can be listed as follows;

  • Provides a structure to the document (i.e. web page)
  • Organize the web page so that they can be recognized by other web services
  • Use a valid language
  • Provide text equivalents for any non-text components (e.g. images, multimedia)
  • Use hyperlinks that make sense when read out of context. (e.g. avoid “Click Here”)
  • Don’t use frames (although this is contentious)
  • Use CSS rather than HTML tables for layout
  • Author the page so that when the source code is read line-by-line by user agents ┬áit remains intelligible.

Website accessibility is also changing as it is impacted by Content Management Systems that allow changes to be made to web pages without the need of obtaining programming language knowledge.

It is very important that several different components of Web development and interaction can work together in order for the Web to be accessible to people with disabilities. These components include:

  • content – the information in a Web page or Web application, including:
  • natural information such as text, images, and sounds
  • code or markup that defines structure, presentation, etc.
  • Web browsers, media players, and other “user agents”
  • assistive technology, in some cases – screen readers, alternative keyboards, switches, scanning software, etc.
  • users’ knowledge, experiences, and in some cases, adaptive strategies using the Web
  • developers – designers, coders, authors, etc., including developers with disabilities and users who contribute content
  • authoring tools – software that creates Web sites
  • evaluation tools – Web accessibility evaluation tools, HTML validators, CSS validators, etc.

Defining the audience is a key step in website planning. Upon considering will use the content, a list of characteristics common to the users such as:

  • Audience Characteristics
  • Information Preferences
  • Computer Specifications
  • Web Experience

Taking into account the characteristics of the audience will allow an effective website to be created that will deliver the desired content to the target audience.

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