posted on:March 19, 2008
11 Accessibility Tips
When developing a site we all sometimes overlook simple methods that we can use to make our site more accessible. Here’s a list of tips that should really be used by all of us, myself included.
1. Structure your document so it can be read without stylesheet
This is the most important tip. Be extra careful of properly structuring your page. Use headings to describe content sections, use lists, make sure that you page has the logical flow. Don’t rely on stylesheet to create that flow for you.
2. Separate your links
Separate consecutive links with more than just a white space. Screen readers tend to interpret two (or more) non separated consecutive links as one.
3. Meaningful links
When read out of context, make sure that your links make sense. i.e. use “read full article” instead of “click here”.
4. Include skip to content link
Permit users to skip repetitive navigation links. If you have the same navigation at the top of the page this allow users to go directly to the content instead of having to scroll down every time they load a page. This doesn’t concern screen readers alone, this is very useful in the web or mobile web.
5. Provide text equivalent for non-text data
Usually we are talking about images here.. To provide text equivalent you can use ALT attribute for briefly describing image’s meaning. Also there is a LONGDESC attribute for longer descriptions. For images that have no meaning use empty ALT attributes (alt=”"). The other way to use text equivalent is to describe the non-text element’s meaning in content.
6. Image links
Related to the above, be careful when using only images for links. Without text equivalent, screen readers will not be able to display the link. Use ALT attribute so screen readers can use it as a link text.
Identify row and column headers. Use TH for headers instead of regular TD styled with alternative styling. Also, provide captions with CAPTION element to describe the contents of the table. If you don’t wish to use captions use TITLE attribute to describe the contents in few words. Use SUMMARY attribute for describing table’s purpose. This is especially useful for non-visual readers.
8. Client Scripting
Make sure that information that is presented through the use of color is also available without it. Otherwise, color blind users will not be able to understand the meaning.
10. Link to accessible version of your page
If you can’t create accessible page for some reason or another, provide a link to accessible page instead.
Validate your document to check for errors.
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