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Accessible Advice on Accessibility

Paraphrased advice from an article by Ginny Redish,
Combined newsletter: "Achieve!" Vol 1, Number 2, "Usability Interface," Vol 9, Issue 4, April 2003

  • Overall Design: Imagine reading your page by reading ONLY the linked text.
  • Text-Only: Do not make a special, duplicate instance of pages for text-only.
  • Formatting
    • Use a style sheet; more precisely, don't put styles directly in a page (local styles) and don't use manual formatting.
    • Use relative font sizes (+1, -1, 70%)
    • Use standard HTML heading identifiers (H1, etc.)
    • Use lots of headings
  • Links
    • Use up to 50 links per page; more becomes burdensome to people 'listening' to the links.
    • Don't start a list of links with an identical word
    • Put key words close to the beginning of link phrases.
    • If necessary, put the key word first in links and headings by following it with a hyphen. "Dogs- Hunting."
    • Use a link at the top of the page with the exact words, "Skip to Main Content" so that screen reader programs can let blind users avoid listening to the repetitive links at the top of every page.
    • Ensure that links in images have text equivalents.
    • Test your links, particularly intra-page links, in a screen reader program (Jaws, Window-Eyes) to make sure the reader doesn't restart at the top of the page.
    • Use intra-page links for long pages.
  • Wording
    • Err on the side of separating compound or hyphenated words... screen readers are more likely to pronounce them properly.
        • Write "Home Page."
    • Use special tags for acronyms and abbreviations: <ACRONYM> and <ABBR>.
    • Do not use links that say simply "Click Here."
  • ALT Tags
    • Write meaningful Alt tags
    • Err on the side of making Alt tags identical to the corresponding linked text
    • For repetitive, decorative items such as bullets, use empty Alt tags: Alt="" is OK, but Alt=" " (a space character) might make more sense.
  • Forms and Data Entry:
    • Don't put a lot of text on form pages; provide separate pages for information and forms
    • Do not put a lot of links or content "above" a form in a page.
    • To convey field information, use only the field labels, not intervening text.
  • Use an accessibility checker

"My interest in usability arose from the pain and tears of patching the wounds of suffering interface designs with the inadequate bandages of help files and user guides." — Daniel Cohen

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