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Accessible HTML

Allowing Other Viewpoints

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It is easy to think that everyone has the same abilities as you do. People viewing web pages don’t have special needs beyond seeing new information, interesting graphics, and useful effects, right? Wrong.

Lots of people with visual impairments, hearing impairments, and mobility impairments use the web every day. While web designers can’t do much about the hardware that disabled people are using, we can strive to make our pages more accessible to them.

One of the easiest ways to check your page for accessibility is to send it through an accessibility validator. Accessibility validators check your HTML and redisplays the page with images as annotations to help you see where your page might be inaccessible. Many will check both browser compatibility problems and disability access problems.

Here are some common accessibility errors and how to fix them:

  • Missing alternative text description
    Don’t forget the alternative text in your <img> tags. This helps people who use screen readers know what the images are, it is also useful for people who view the web with images off.
  • Page does not have a noframes version
    Include a <noframes> version of your framed pages on the top level frameset. A page with a completely replicated noframes version is more accessible than a noframes version that simply suggests the viewer get a different browser.
  • Missing alternative text descriptions for image maps
    Put an alt="text" in your HTML area tags For example:
    <area shape=rect coords=0,0,10,10 href="example.htm" alt="example">
    This helps people with screen readers know where the image map will take them.
  • No text only links for image heavy pages
    It is a nice touch to add links to text-only versions of your pages. These pages often load faster and when it is text only there is little problem for screen readers.
  • No descriptive text for audio files and movie files
    While audio files improve the web experience for blind people, they are inaccessible for deaf people. The reverse is true for movie files. When there is descriptive text for these types of files, they make the page more accessible to more people.
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