HTML and CSS Reference
In-Depth Information
Take Advantage of All HTML Tags
It's easy to fall into the trap of using <i> or <b> rather than more specific tags when you
need to add emphasis to something. For example, suppose you're citing a passage from a
book. When you enter the topic title, you could indicate to your users that it's a proper
title by putting it inside the <i> tag, or you could use the <cite> tag. There are plenty of
other underutilized tags, as well, all of which provide some semantic meaning in addition
to the text formatting they're associated with.
Even in cases in which you really just want to emphasize text, it's preferable to use <em>
and <strong> over <i> and <b> . These tags provide a lot more meaning than the basic
text formatting tags that are often used. Not all alternative browsers will take advantage
of any or all these tags, but conveying as much meaning as possible through your choice
of tags won't hurt accessibility for sure and will help some now and could help more in
the future. There's no downside to taking this approach, either.
Frames and Linked Windows
Frames are, to put it bluntly, a barrier to accessibility. There are some workarounds avail-
able, but the bottom line is that if you're concerned about accessibility, you should prob-
ably avoid frames. Using linked windows and pop-up windows can also be a huge hassle
from an accessibility perspective.
If you opt to use frames, you should include titles for all your frames, not just the docu-
ment containing the frameset. Using regular browsers, the titles of these documents are
suppressed. That's not necessarily the case with alternative browsers. Some will provide
links to the individual frames when you pull up the frameset, and having titles makes it
easier for users to distinguish between them.
Forms present another thorny accessibility issue. Nearly all web applications are based
on forms, and failure to make them accessible can cost you users. For example, large
online stores have a serious financial interest in focusing on form accessibility. How
many sales would Amazon or eBay lose if their sites weren't accessible? Some work on
making sure the forms that enable you to purchase items are accessible can pay off.
One key thing to remember is that disabled users often navigate using only the keyboard.
As I mentioned when talking about links, assigning sensible tabindex values to your
form fields can really increase both the usability and accessibility of your forms. The
other advanced form tags, such as fieldset , optgroup , and label , can be beneficial in
terms of usability, too.
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