1. Technology

Validating for Accessibility

Using CynthiaSays to Create Accessible HTML




Image courtesy star-one from StockXchng #300688.

There are many HTML validators available to tell you if your HTML meets current standards or if it will look okay in a specific browser, but there is only one good validator that tells you if your page is accessible to people with disabilities: HiSoftware's CynthiaSays.

Why Make Accessible Web Pages?

Making your page accessible is more than just putting alt text on images (although that is a good start). But when you create accessible pages, you do more than just allow people with disabilities to use your site, you make your site easier for everyone.

For example, alt text is a great way to provide more information about your images to everyone who comes to your site. When a reader puts their cursor over your image, some browsers will pop-up a description of the image - straight from your alt text. This benefits screen readers that don't display the image at all, customers with slow connections browsing with images off, and the average Web surfer.

CynthiaSays is Easy to Use

CynthiaSays is a very easy to use program. You simply put in your Web page URL and it reviews it and tells you which lines have code that doesn't meet the WAI (Web Accessibility Initiative) guidelines.

Why isn't this site Priority 1 or A-level Accessible?

About.com sites are created with an HTML template. When we write our articles, we put them in a special tool that formats them to fit the About look and feel. Unfortunately, the Guides have no control over how the HTML is developed for that template. We can only suggest that changes be made. But if readers tell About that they want accessible sites, the developers will eventually make the change.

What Can You Do to Make Pages More Accessible?

As a Web developer, it is up to you to make sure that every page you put up on the Web is Priority 1 and at least A or Double-A Accessible. This will not insure that your site is truly accessible, but it is a good start.

As a Web surfer, you should check out the accessibility of sites that you go to often. Are they accessible? If they aren't, write to the site developer, and let them know you want accessible sites. In the case of About sites, write to gethelp@aboutguide.com and let the About developers know that they should create accessible templates.

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