HTML and CSS Reference
accessibility will limit designers' options in how they create their sites. Also accessibility
seems like it will add additional work, and most people have too much to do already.
For a long time, many people thought that accessible was a code word for all text . It was
believed that adding accessibility meant putting all your content in a single column run-
ning straight down the page and avoiding the bells and whistles that many people believe
are necessary for an attractive website. This couldn't be further from the truth. Although
some common techniques can interfere with accessibility, that doesn't mean that you
must remove any images, sounds, or multimedia from your website. Nor does it dictate
that your layout be simplified.
The demand that accessibility places on designers is that they write clean, standards-
compliant markup, take advantage of HTML features that improve accessibility, and use
tags as they are intended to be used in the specification rather than based on how they
make your pages look in the browser. The best example here is tables. At one time,
nearly all websites used tables not only for showing things like tables of statistics, but
also for controlling the layout of entire pages. These types of approaches run counter to
how HTML was intended to be used and make things much more difficult for users with
To continue to use complex layouts in an accessible world, you have to upgrade to cur-
rent techniques—in other words, create your layouts using CSS. Just as this approach
provides a cutting-edge look and feel in the latest browsers and yet gracefully degrades
to still display information adequately in older browsers, it provides the same benefits in
alternative browsers. Because the markup is so simple and is properly used when you use
CSS to handle layout, alternative browsers for the disabled can handle the markup just
fine. That's not the case when you use eight levels of nested tables to make your page
look the way you want it to.
The other common misapprehension for accessibility is that it will require a lot of extra
work on your part. It does require some extra work—creating your pages so that they
take advantage of accessibility features in HTML is more work than leaving them out.
However, in many cases, coding for accessibility will help all your users, not just those
using alternative browsers.
Section 508 is a government regulation specifying that U.S. federal government agencies
must provide access for all users, including those with disabilities, to electronic and