I’ve built this site to be accessible. Mainly I’ve done so to educate myself in the techniques and standards that support accessibility, but if there are any users reading this with a screen reader, I hope I’ve managed to keep you from surfing away in frustration. There are a few features built-in to the site which should help:
Accesskey is a feature that helps to make navigation more easy. Using only the keyboard, you can instatly jump to certain pages in the site. By typing alt+ (PC) or ctrl+ (mac), the Home link is highlighted, allowing you to visit this page with a hit of the ‘enter’ key. Specific pages can be visited with the combinations below:
|Home page||alt+1, enter|
|skip page navigation
(this brings the main content of a page to the top of the screen)
|accessibility page||alt+0, enter|
|contact page||alt+9, enter|
You can also highlight links on a page with the Tab key. Try it. Keep pressing and you’ll see links highlight on the page, more-or-less in order. Hit enter to activate the one you want.
It is important to follow web standards when building an Accessible site. To do so ensures that the site is available to the widest possible array of user agents, i.e. browsers, screen readers, braille output devices, pda’s etc.
Robotperson passes the W3C validation tests for XHTML and CSS – two key technologies used in producing web pages.
Click on these buttons, and watch my home page validate …er, hopefully, anyway. If I’m no longer validating, drop me a line. I’ll fix the problem and award you a special star.
Accessibility is a hot topic at the moment. The 1995 Disability Discriminiation Act requires that businesses and organisations make "reasonable adjustments to the physical features of their premises to overcome physical barriers to access", a definition of premises which extends to web sites.
This means that people with reduced mobility, reading difficulties, visual impairments, and all other kinds disability should be able to get at the content of a web site. The phrase "equal or equivalent access for everyone" is key, and this chimes nicely with the oft-quoted philosophy of Tim Berners-Lee, director of the W3C and inventor of the world wide web:
"The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect."
Disabled visitors often use specialised tools to help with their surfing, like screen reader software, or custom input devices, and accommodating these is a large part of making a site accessible. But accessibility extends to the full spectrum of software / hardware configurations, from me checking Ebay using IE6 on Windows to my friend checking the cinema listings on his PDA.
By building accessibly, this site is accessible to as wide an audience as possible. By providing tools to allow customisation, and making sure that my content renders correctly cross-platform, I hope that removing some of the barriers that frustrate disabled users. And these modifications often improve the experience for the wider audience anyway, so everyone’s a winner.