View Full Version : Isn't this horrible for people with disabilities?
12-15-2006, 03:05 AM
First ever global accessibility survey reveals only 3% of websites tested reach minimum levels.
What does that have to do with you? http://elgg.net/stevelee/weblog/142346.html
12-15-2006, 10:09 AM
Not surprising at all.
In 10 years of building sites, I've had two blind customers contact me directly regarding inaccessibility issues.
We're taught to build sites that accommodate the bulk of our users, incorporating the latest and greatest technologies, sites that are graphically appealing.
If you want a more clear example of what it's like for them, close your eyes and have someone narrate the page to you in their best robotic monotone. Start with your mouse at the top left and slowly move the cursor accross the entire page describing every element, page title, alt description for every image and every single link on a menu. As an example, let's "read" the header of this site.
On page load, you'll hear the title:
"Web Pro World" "Index"
You put your cursor at the top left and wait as the browser reads to you.
"Image", "Search engine optimisation and SEM discussion forum"
Slowly scanning the page with the cursor, you then hear:
"Link", "Page one"
"Link", "Link to us"
"Link", "Log in/out"
"Link", "Edit profile"
"Link", "Private messages"
"Link", "RSS feeds"
There, now we're at the forum menu. This process continues as the users mouses around the page, hovering over every page element, until they find something of interest to click on.
The process begins again with the next page they visit. It's agonizingly slow and requires a great deal of patience.
It's a hard sell when most people are so visually oriented and rate a site according to "look & feel" but there are some basic priciples that will make things easier for the visually impaired.
If you use text menus, keep the graphics to a minimum, are sure to include descriptive alt attributes for images, use CSS resizeable text, tables for layout and refrain from using Flash, a blind browser won't have any problems whatsoever.
If you're curious, download a browser for the blind and check out your own site, or download the Lynx browser to see what a blind browser or screen reader would "see".
03-06-2007, 02:47 PM
Interesting subject since all of my websites pass the Americians with Disabilities Act. It is interesting to see how the blind use the web and how their reader called "Jaws" work. One thing that almost everyone forgets about is the largest network of blind readers are the search engines. Bottom Line....... Design for the ADA and rank higher.
03-06-2007, 04:41 PM
I hope this blatant plug is ok. If you're in the UK and you want to know more about how blind people use the Internet, you are welcome to come to the free demonstrations of the JAWS screen reader that we do every month with one of our blind testers. Full details and a booking form are at:
Test Partners Ltd / First Accessibility
03-06-2007, 05:32 PM
Nice looking site. My main addition would be an 'last updated at, e.g.
And Last updated on:
Also, I keep reading everywhere that the search engines like a textually informative site that talks to you rather than being stashed with keywords for the search engines.
I completely redesigned my sites using css, and changed every page to .shtml from .htm, in many cases deleting the originals, although with some permanent redirection.
It took a short while to get back into a reasonable spot with google, but it did happen. I admit my css is very weak, but I kept it simple, which has really reduced page sizes, too. I like it much better, it is cleaner, easier to make a global change and I do not have to worry about pesky service providers whose Frontpage extensions keep breaking - a nightmare.
Being a lazy developer, I tend to overuse pesky frontpage, but if pages get too large, I do major global edits to remove repetitive content.
I suffer from the weakness that I have duplicate content on many sites, which isn't always a bad thing, from my point of view, but I do lose my ranking in google completely, occasionally because of this.
If I understood css better, I would use it everywhere, it is brilliant. And, yes, do validate the code, and add decent meta tags, which my site lacks on most pages.
03-06-2007, 05:57 PM
"In all, the survey comprehensively tested 100 websites"
They should have expanded their sample size -- 100 websites is hardly an adequate pool to judge "the internet" by. I have the feeling that had they expanded their search, they would have found even more conclusive data to support their cause. Three percent of all sites being accessible seems conservative.
03-06-2007, 06:16 PM
Whoops, I replied to the wrong listing. Never mind!
We use the Jaws reader at the University of Essex, well we do when we have a need, superb tool, and it has had good use in the past.
I would be interested to know whether it [jaws] will be working with the dreaded vista, which is just a girlie looking version of XP, and not to be trusted, and generally most drivers do not keep up with the current Microsoft trends to wheedle a few more pounds from your budgets.
Interestingly, the Expression Web designer is not included as part of the Office package, and has to be purchased separately, shame on you Bill. It is actually a quite decent tool that knocks the pesky Frontpage into oblivion.
03-06-2007, 06:27 PM
"100 websites is hardly an adequate pool to judge "the internet" by"
The purpose of this survey was to look at sites where the owners had (or should have had) both the knowledge and the budget to do the job to the highest standards. I think the fact that 97% of this group of people did a very poor job does get the point across.
In a great many cases people don't know they should be insisting on their designers producing an accessible site even if they have the budget to do so. I see no value in including these sites in such a survey.
I think the actual figure is largely irrelevant, particularly since a poor WCAG rating does not necessarily mean the site is actually inaccessible. Only user testing can assess that, but it's expensive.
In any case do you really suppose people will say "Hey, 3% of sites are accessible so that's ok; there's no need to do anything about it. Now if it was only 1% that would be different...".
03-06-2007, 06:54 PM
I do not think this is part of the overall picture. You may wish to use 'fire escape' plans as a good example [nothing to do with the internet, I know].
Up until new legislation this year, there were minimal plans in place for the escape of a person with a serious disability from a burning building. This has changed since the onous of this has been placed upon an employer / boss, and hopefully they will now take thi responsibility seriously.
But, until legislation comes into place that forces a web site to be disability friendly, you are looking at the old norm of 'why bother for such a small percentage of users'.
Talking about this becoming a matter of law, didn't Target get sued because their web site was not accessible to the blind?
03-12-2007, 12:28 AM
Target Stores did get sued. So did the 2000 Olympics and many other smaller sites. And the flood gates open. It is against the law to discriminate against the handicaped or any other minority.