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Tag: impairments

Evaluating a website for accessibility

The W3C has extensive information on how to properly evaluation a sites accessibility. Here are the underlining steps to ensure that your evaluation is full-proof:

For a preliminary review, select a page that is representative of the whole site or that most people will see. Try to choose a page that has tabular data, images and scripts. And then:

  • Examine this page for alternative text,
  • Divs instead of tables for page layout,
  • Use the keyboard instead of the mouse for navigation,
  • Test with different font-sizes and screen resolutions.

The Firebug and Web Developer extensions in Firefox will make your life easier in accessing the code and disabling images and even resizing your browser size. It might be a good idea to try a screen reader, and not to mention an Web accessibility evaluation tool like AChecker. These will enhance your understanding of the sites limitations and successes.

Another important part of evaluating a site is to get people with disabilities involved in the process. Some may have insights that other users will not.

For a complete procedure of website evaluation you have to go to the W3C – Web Accessibility Initiative page.

Although a little outdated, the WAI also provides a comprehensive checklist of accessibility guidelines (WCAG 1.0) and an useful template for the final accessibility report. They really thought of everything!

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Did you know that…

Did you know that according to Statistics Canada in 2006 there was 1,289,420 Canadians with a hearing impairment, 835,960 Canadians with a seeing impairment, 2,856,820 Canadians with an agility impairment, and 752,110 Canadians with a learning impairment. In every case, around 70% of these Canadians said that they had used the Internet in the past year. Let me crunch the numbers.  That’s 5,734,310 Canadians with the above mentioned impairments of 31,612,897, the total population recorded that year. So…there’s roughly about 13% of Canadians, with these impairments, that use the Internet.  That’s a lot of people if you ask me!

Ok, nobody likes having numbers thrown at them, but I hope that at least it impresses on you how important it is to consider people with impairments or disabilities as active members of our society and as such they should to be able to access with ease all the information everyone else can access.

You can have a look at the complete survey at the Statistics Canada website.

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So what is web accessibility?

Web accessibility is part of web standards. It focuses on making any online content accessible to people with disabilities. These people use a variety of assistive technologies to navigate through the Internet. For example, people with visual impairments often use a screen reader to read outloud the text on the page. People with reduced motor skills use adapted keyboards or mouses that help them click on links amongst other things. All these technologies are pretty pointless if the code is not correctly implemented.

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