UX Magazine

Defining and Informing the Complex Field of User Experience (UX)

Maximum Accessibility: Making Your Web Site More Usable for Everyone

September 30, 2002
John M. Slatin, Sharron Rush

Fifty-five million Americans live with a disability. This number is likely to increase as the population ages. The Web can be an unprecedented means of providing knowledge and economic power to people with disabilities. Because it is critically important to our society that everyone has the means to be included as producers and consumers in the information marketplace, the federal government's Access Board has issued standards for Web Accessibility, commonly referred to as Section 508. There is still a great deal of ignorance, misunderstanding, and confusion among internet professionals as to how to achieve accessibility to those with disabilities. This book will clarify and provide solutions to these problems.

Accessibility is now a legal requirement for all national government Web sites in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and the European Union. Throughout the world, many other organizations--universities, schools, and private companies--are recognizing that accessibility is a moral and business imperative; many are adopting policies aimed at making Web resources accessible to the more than six hundred million people with disabilities worldwide.

Maximum Accessibility is a comprehensive resource for creating Web sites that comply with new U.S. accessibility standards and conform to the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0. This book offers an overview of key issues, discusses the standards in depth, and presents practical design techniques, up-to-date technologies, and testing methods to implement these standards for maximum accessibility. You will learn how to:

    Write effective text equivalents for images and audio files
    Caption soundtracks and describe the action of videos and animation
    Set up data and layout tables that make sense to the ear and eye
    Design Web forms that people can interact with via the keyboard and other input devices
    Label forms so that people who use talking browsers can give the right information at the right time
    Make scripts accessible to people who don't use a mouse
    Create simple PDF files that are accessible to people with disabilities
    Use cascading style sheets to make your thoroughly accessible pages look great

Throughout the book, case studies illustrate how inadvertent accessibility barriers on major Web sites affect the ability of people with disabilities to locate information, participate in e-commerce, and explore the richness of the Web. These case studies demonstrate how certain design features can make access much harder, and how other features can greatly ease the use of a page or site.

Most of all, this leading-edge guide reveals that a little extra design consideration up front can help you create a site that is not only a pleasure for people with disabilities, but attractive and pleasing for all interested users. In short, Maximum Accessibility shows why good design is accessible design.

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