Ok so Canada does not have the national equivalent to the United States section 508. But if you want to know what they recommend you can read their Common Look and Feel standards for the Internet documentation. Obviously the information is for government and public sector websites, but it could be useful to get another perspective on standards and accessibility. It basically lists out the main things we need to remember for guidelines and best practices.Leave a Comment
Tag: Web Accessibility
Sure accessibility guidelines are designed to help people with disabilities access the web, but it extends to more than just them. I am talking about the elderly, people with low literacy or little fluency in the language the site is made, people that have dial-up or a low bandwidth connection, and even new or infrequent web users.
Let me illustrate exactly how web accessibility will improve the user experience:
- Elderly people might have a deteriorating eyesight and will need to make the text bigger. So avoid having fixed font size.
- Low literacy or little fluency in a language can ultimately alienate the user if the there’s too many words or if the text is too complex. Obviously you have to consider your target audience, but this is still worth considering as low literacy can be improved over time.
- Believe it or not, some users still have dial-up and low bandwidth is still a norm in most developing countries so it only makes sense to minimize your site’s size by separating content and layout, provide alternatives to images or non-textual content (some users might want to turn off the images) and make sure that if your CSS is turned off that your content is still ordered in a logical way.
- Having a consistent structure and a clear navigation throughout your site will make it easier for anyone, including first timers, to find their way around your site. A good way to improve usability is to have a site plan, especially for larger sites.
So you see that web accessibility is for a lot of different people. Including them will certainly not hurt.Leave a Comment
Accessibility guidelines are primarily developed for people with either visual, hearing or physical impairments and disabilities. Here are basic descriptions of some ways people with disabilities use the internet:
- People with visual impairments might use a screen reader. This is a software that will read out loud the text of the web page. They might also use a text browser and need to make the text bigger. Just think about the elderly that have weaker eyesight.
- People that have hearing impairments won’t be able to hear music or audio. Captions or transcripts are the only ways to not alienate them.
- People with physical disabilities like reduced motor skills use assistive technologies to help them navigate through the site.
- We also need to keep in mind people with cognitive disabilities. They’ll need simple language and consistency throughout the website. This is also valid for first time web users.
There’s lots more to consider, for more read: W3C’s document on how people with disabilities use the web.Leave a Comment
As far as I know, web accessibility in Canada is up to each province to legislate. There are several attempt to make websites accessible in government and educational institutions. Most if not all government websites in Canada are now accessible. But unfortunately, there are no laws to ensure that accessibility guidelines are respected.
A special notice should be given to W3Québec. An organization dedicated to promote web accessibility across Québec. Another organization is Accéssibilité Web that have done substantial studies on the matter and have translated WCAG 2.0 in French.
Unlike the US, the Canadian government has yet to make an official law like Section 508. There’s still a ways to get people on board.
If you want to read more on this, check out: http://www.webaccessibility.biz/canada.htmLeave a Comment
Firefox 2 and Firefox 3 let the user add plugins to the browser. There are about a million of them that you can find either on the menubar under Tools and Add-ons or at their website at addons.mozilla.org. The add-ons that any web developer must have are Firebug, to debug the code and make adjustments on the fly; Web Developer, to disable, highlight, display, outline, and validate just about anything on any web page; and a recent discovery of mine Firefox Accessibility Extension.
Although Firefox Accessibility Extension has similar features than the Web Developer add-on, it’s still pretty sweet. Not only does it give the user a toolbar, but also an extra heading on the menubar, between Tools and Help, which I personally prefer rather than having a bunch of toolbars taking up space on my browser. The greatest feature of this extension for a web developer is that you can validate your web page for accessibility. Its FAE Rule Set is based on Functional Accessibility Evaluator 1.0.1 developed by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
If you have any mistakes these are listed in a window with a description of the error. Obviously there’s a learning curve where you have to know the terms that the report is referring to, nothing a little research won’t solve. These rules are very straightforward, but not exhaustive. This tools gives you a simple and fair reading of your page and this is already a very good starting point.Leave a Comment
Content management systems (CMS) have become very popular in the last 3 years or so. They usually are pretty easy to install and to upgrade, but not all of them have accessibility in mind. What often happens is that the theme designer has to make it her or his business to create a site as accessible as possible.
I came across some CMS that have accessibility integrated into the system in an article written by the National Center on Disability and Access to Education named NCDAE Tips and Tools: Content Management Systems & Accessibility.
They explain the major challenges that people with disabilities face while using a regular CMS and give us advice on how to choose a responsible system. Most of the systems they recommend have an accessibility page stating there attempt to respect accessibility guidelines. This is valuable information that can help anyone accessing the site. Read this article before considering any CMS.Leave a Comment
I just read Accessibility Laws In Canada by Tara Cleveland, A little dated, but really worth reading. The author writes about the legal incentive for web accessibility in Canada. According to Canadian codes, Websites should be accessible, unless, of course, the site doesn’t provide any goods or services online, post job opportunities, or have any employees that need to use the site to do their jobs. Which frankly is a big chunk of websites. So push your boss and youself to make all websites accessible.Leave a Comment
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.Leave a Comment