HTML and CSS Reference
In-Depth Information
chapter nine
Ensuring Accessibility
JOE WANTS TO make sure that all the visitors to his new website can check out the menu, find special offers, and
place a booking online. Sometimes, it is easy to forget that not all users can enjoy the same rich experience as we do
when browsing a website. For users with visual or motor impairments, browsing the web can actually be quite a diffi-
cult task. We need to make sure that we build accessibility features into the Joe's Pizza Co. website so that these users
can easily read the content and navigate the pages.
Accessibility is affected by both your markup and your visual design. In this chapter, you focus on the markup side of
this problem. You learn how to write markup that makes your websites more accessible to assistive technologies such
as screen readers. It's no good learning about the principles of accessibility if you have no way to test them, so this
chapter also covers a variety of tools that you can use to test both your website markup and visual design.
Why Is Accessibility Important?
Building websites that are accessible is crucial to maintaining a web that anyone can use, regardless of whether he or
she has a disability. This section addresses three major reasons why you should ensure that your websites are access-
Reason #1: It's the Right Thing to Do
Making your websites accessible is simply the right thing to do. As a web developer, you should carefully consider
your entire audience, not only the typical user, but the entire spectrum. What if your user is blind? How will she be
able to access your content?
Think about the other extreme “power users” who might use your web applications multiple times a day and will want
features like keyboard shortcuts so that they can accomplish tasks quickly. This functionality is also useful for people
with motor impairments who may not be able to use a mouse.
Reason #2: It Leads to Best Practices and Better Code
Creating accessible websites means you will follow recognized web standards. This means picking up coding best
practices that will make your web pages more accessible and improve your overall coding abilities. Everybody wins!
A big part of a web developer's job is considering all possible situations and creating applications that can handle all
these edge cases. Incorporating accessibility features to serve your entire audience is a valuable skill that can serve
you well as you learn more about web technologies.
Reason #3: It Fulfills Legal Requirements
Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer, so none of this should be taken as legal advice.
Many countries have laws requiring that certain organizations make their web applications and websites accessible to
users with disabilities. In 1998, the U.S. Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 with section 508, requiring
Federal agencies to make their electronic information accessible to all. The U.K. has a British Standard (BS8878) that
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