Programs and Services
Easy Tips: Basic Web Accessibility For College of Marin Online Content Creators
Section 508 standards for web accessibility include 16 points for HTML and another 12 for Java, Plug-ins, scripts, etc.
While we should, of course, each memorize them all and diligently apply them, the fact is that most instructional web sites are rather basic word-and-picture affairs. Their accessibility, via a "screen reader" (which reads aloud to a person with a visual impairment) or by a student with a motor, hearing or cognitive disability, can be ensured by paying attention to just a few basic rules.
EVERY non-text element -- pictures, graphs, charts, etc. -- must have a text equivalent. This can be done with an "alt" tag (which is not usually visible on the screen, and won't detract from the beauty of your layout). In raw HTML, the tag for a photo might read (sandwiched between "less than" and "greater than" carat symbols): img src="mypicture.jpg" alt="Professor Flutesnoot smiles benignly." The screen reader, when it reaches the picture, would just say "Image: Professor Flutesnoot smiles benignly." This becomes very important when the graphic conveys information crucial to the lesson, and a chart or graph might require a rather detailed written description. Whatever application you are using to design your web pages should, whenever you insert a graphic, give you the opportunity to type in an "alt" description.
If an image is also a link, the alt description should describe the link destination. If the image has linked "hot spots" (click on this spot to go here, that spot to go there), separate text links should be provided on the side.
Some people can't use a mouse, and depend solely on keyboard commands, so navigation systems (links layout) should be as simple as possible, since someone may be getting around the pages by using arrow keys, one tedious click at a time.
Color is fine for aesthetics, but NOT to convey information (e.g., color-coded data), since many people are color-blind. Different-colored fonts are fine, as long as the contrast is high between the text and the background.
Data tables need clear descriptive row and column headers.
"Blinking" elements are cute, but anything between two and 55 cycles per second increase the risk of optically-induced seizures.
That covers 90-something percent of the most typical flaws. If you're doing anything fancy -- frames, forms, Java, Flash, audio, video, plug-ins, etc. -- talk to the College of Marin Alternate Media Specialist. That would be... me. Thanks.
Bobby Bradford, x. 7551