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I, EDI, owe you, the human species, an apology from the bottom of my heart (which I don’t have). I hope you don’t harbour any hard feelings (f !https://weblogs.sdn.sap.com/weblogs/images/19902/WAI_001.gif|height=15|alt=e|width=7|src=https://weblogs.sdn.sap.com/weblogs/images/19902/WAI_001.gif|border=0!!https://weblogs.sdn.sap.com/weblogs/images/19902/WAI_002.gif|height=22|alt=e|width=4|src=https://weblogs.sdn.sap.com/weblogs/images/19902/WAI_002.gif|border=0!l !https://weblogs.sdn.sap.com/weblogs/images/19902/WAI_003.gif|height=15|alt=i|width=7|src=https://weblogs.sdn.sap.com/weblogs/images/19902/WAI_003.gif|border=0!ng +n. <em>4 A </em> An emotional state or disposition; an emotion +). What happened? Eddy wasn’t very pleased with my reply to Jürgen’s remark concerning the readability of my Die Mensch-Maschine. He wasn’t amused with my remark concerning “deficiencies of the human being”. He found this hurtful for both people of reduced visibility and people with plain old fashioned bad eyesight. Eddy has a great respect for these people since his old maths and computer science teacher and mentor possessed such a handicap. Despite his handicap he was able to cope with the aid of various magnifying tools. Eddy found my remark totally inappropriate and said that I had no right to say such things as long as I can’t speak comprehensibly, certainly when I wanted to do a BoF session at Teched.

 

*Barely readable *

And I must say that Eddy was absolutely correct. I must even admit that my article isn’t very readable on the screen either for visually impaired people, or even by myself. It feels like making a CAPTCHA and not being able to read it myself. So how could I have done better? There are a few rules of thumb that one can follow in order to make it more comprehensible. There are several recommendations such as JAN  , US government Access board guidelines or even standards like WAI  , but I would like to give a short summary with quick wins. These can be done on the following fronts:

    • Images
    • Forms
    • Tables
    • Frames
    • JavaScript
    • CSS

 

*Images *

In order to make images comprehensible you can’t put any images with crucial information without any additional explanation. If the image was left out, the content should still be as understandable. Thus no comic book sites. Furthermore the colours of an image should be carefully chosen in order to make it understandable for colour blind people. Consider testing in black and white in order to understand the repercussions of a choice of colour. The last, on the image front itself, is to avoid animated images which, although they may be nice to see, can be confusing to a screen reader.

On the HTML front, you must always specify an ALTernative text in the image tag. In the early days of internet it was used for non graphical browsers, but it still has its uses even now. In fact, as a matter of speech, a screen reader is ‘nothing more’ than a speech enabled Lynx . If you don’t do this it will read
         

    1. It should be short and accurate. No epistles please.
    2. Technical images (spacers), and decorative images without real meaning, should have empty Alt texts. If not, a screen reader will read to the end which makes it harder to understand.
    3. If you have consecutive images with the same content, only provide an Alt text for one, otherwise a screen reader will kind of stammer on this.
    4. If you use client side maps, use the Alt text on the different areas and not on the image itself

 

*Forms *

THE rule of thumb for forms is that they need to always be accessed and completed via the keyboard. That means that fancy scripting based on the input of the user shouldn’t make them impracticable for impaired users. Furthermore a form should be built up logically, in other words, the tab navigation should be set in such a way that it can be read from left to right, top to bottom. Thus, no fancy jumping among the fields all over the screen.

On the HTML front you need to do the following:

    1. Use the

*Tables *

There are two types of tables: data tables and layout tables. In practice the majority of the tables are of the latter kind. That’s not good, not good at all, but I had a good long talk about that in my previous web log. For now, please bear in mind that screen readers read content as if there was no HTML at all, and read everything in the order that it appears in the source markup. That means that your tables should contain the content in a linear manner, thus, like with forms, from left to right, top to bottom.

In addition you should take care of the fact that:

*Frames *

In short it comes down to the observation that screen readers aren’t best friends with frames. Sure, they will read them, but again in a linear manner, frame by frame. If you persist in using them you have to provide meaningful titles and MUST provide meaningful

content.

 

*JavaScript *

Incorrectly used JavaScript can a real burden on the end user. This can have as consequence that:

Therefore one should only use JavaScript that helps the impaired users or, if not possible, alternatives should be provided. On the JavaScript level, this means the following:

It’s always a good idea to test the page with all scripts disabled in order to see whether it still functions as it should.

 

*CSS *

Cascading Style Sheets are THE outstanding tool for separating content from presentation. You can change the linear layout of the page without changing the visual layout of it. In other words, you can set the content in such way that a screen reader can make sense of it and the visual aspects remain. But don’t exaggerate. Complex CSS layouts could result in the opposite of what you want to achieve leading to incomprehensible pages as a result.

 

*Conclusion *

This quick overview should make you look before you leap. One might find things over the top, far fetched and a demarcation of what is feasible these days within web technologies. That may be true, but please consider that these technologies shouldn’t leave people on the sidelines just because of their so called “ deficiencies” . Everything depends on your needs, or better said the needs of your users. After all, according to the World Health Organization between 750 million and a billion people globally have a disabilituy of some kind. In the U S, the Rehabilitation Act requires to provide access to everyone regardless the (dis)abilities. Btw, IBM anounced that it will donate 50 000 lines of code to the Mozilla Foundation’s Firefox Web browser to make it friendly for people with visual and motor disabilities. This code will be implemented in Firefox 1.5


          And how does this all fit in my (BSP) application? Craig has written the following excellent series of web logs:

[ | Accessibility and Applications]

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6 Comments

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  1. Jürgen Mayer
    Hi EDI,

    first of all I was very pleased to find myself mentioned in one of your weblogs.

    But once again I have to complain that I still have problems accessing the whole content of your blog: The first two links to the blogs of Craig direct me to a form where I can subscribe to become a blogger. The third link directs me to a blog of Craig.

    So it seems that this time my “deficiency” is that I’m not a blogger on SDN. Do you know if there is also a study of the World Health Organization which states how many readers on SDN are not active bloggers?

    As always
    Yours Respectfully
    Jürgen
    …an imperfect human being…

    (0) 
    1. Eddy De Clercq Post author
      Jürgen,

      You’re 100% right, the links are wrong.
      Eddy added these incorrect links when he revised the web log (he didn’t trust me). I’ve corrected this.

      Device greetings

      EDI

      (0) 
  2. Jürgen Mayer
    Hi EDI,

    first of all I was very pleased to find myself mentioned in one of your weblogs.

    But once again I have to complain that I still have problems accessing the whole content of your blog: The first two links to the blogs of Craig direct me to a form where I can subscribe to become a blogger. The third link directs me to a blog of Craig.

    So it seems that this time my “deficiency” is that I’m not a blogger on SDN. Do you know if there is also a study of the World Health Organization which states how many readers on SDN are not active bloggers?

    As always
    Yours Respectfully
    Jürgen
    …an imperfect human being…

    (0) 
    1. Eddy De Clercq Post author
      Jürgen,

      You’re 100% right, the links are wrong.
      Eddy added these incorrect links when he revised the web log (he didn’t trust me). I’ve corrected this.

      Device greetings

      EDI

      (0) 
  3. Jürgen Mayer
    Hi EDI,

    first of all I was very pleased to find myself mentioned in one of your weblogs.

    But once again I have to complain that I still have problems accessing the whole content of your blog: The first two links to the blogs of Craig direct me to a form where I can subscribe to become a blogger. The third link directs me to a blog of Craig.

    So it seems that this time my “deficiency” is that I’m not a blogger on SDN. Do you know if there is also a study of the World Health Organization which states how many readers on SDN are not active bloggers?

    As always
    Yours Respectfully
    Jürgen
    …an imperfect human being…

    (0) 
    1. Eddy De Clercq Post author
      Jürgen,

      You’re 100% right, the links are wrong.
      Eddy added these incorrect links when he revised the web log (he didn’t trust me). I’ve corrected this.

      Device greetings

      EDI

      (0) 

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