Accessible content

  • Accessible folksonomies
    "Lately I've been thinking about one particular artifact of the folksonomy phenomenon--the folksonomy menu that serves as a sort of buzz index providing users with a quick visualization of the most popular tags (technically I think it's called a weighted list). Popular tags are displayed in a larger font and it's relatively easy to identify hot topics at a glance. This visual representation of the popularity of any given tag is undeniably cool. However, once the coolness factor wears off it becomes fairly obvious that these menus are also not very accessible."
    (Kirk Biglione, alt tags)

  • A dyslexic perspective on e-content accessibility
    This paper gives the web developer an insight into the issues of web accessibility for users with dyslexia (and/or other specific learning difficulties). It covers the four main areas of accessibility: presentation, content, structure and navigation.
    (Peter Rainger, JISC TechDis)

  • A more accessible map
    "As companies like Google and Yahoo! have simplified the process of placing information on a map by offering web services/APIs, the popularity and abundance of mapping applications on the web has increased dramatically. Most online mapping applications do not address issues of web accessibility. For a visually impaired web user, these highly visual maps are essentially useless. Is there a way to display text-based data on a map, keeping it accessible, useful and visually attractive? Yes: using an accessible CSS-based map in which the underlying map data is separated from the visual layout."
    (Seth Duffey, A List Apart)

  • An accessible method of hiding HTML content
    Though somewhat rare, there are occasions when the accessibility needs of screen reader users appear to be at odds with the needs of visual users. This kind of conflict occurs when web developers put form elements inside a data table matrix, when they want to use images as headings instead of text, and in other situations. Adding extra text helps screen reader users, but can complicate the visual layout, thus reducing understandability. One solution is to use CSS to hide the text from sighted users in a way that is still accessible to screen readers.

  • Appropriate use of alternative text
    "Adding alternative text for images is the first principle of web accessibility. It is also one of the most difficult to properly implement. The web is replete with images that have missing, incorrect, or poor alternative text. Like many things in web accessibility, determining appropriate, equivalent, alternative text is often a matter of personal interpretation. Through the use of examples, this article will present our experienced interpretation of appropriate use of alternative text."

  • Contradictions in accessibility: hidden information
    Many of the techniques we employ as developers to make our web sites more accessible result in hidden information that may only make them more accessible to a small portion of users rather than more accessible to everyone.
    (Derek Featherstone, Box of chocolates)

  • Demonstration of the LONGDESC attribute and 'd' link
    When images are provided to illustrate complex ideas, the same information must also be provided in an accessible form. Use of the LONGDESC HTML attribute or 'd' links are two approaches that can be used.
    (Web Accessibility Technical Services)

  • Designing pages to be accessible to limited textual comprehension users
    "The goal of this document is to provide clear and simple steps that a web author can take in order to increase the understandability of her site for users with limited textual comprehension."
    (Kynn Bartlett, AWARE Center)

  • Designing web content for people with learning disabilities
    Learning disabilities, incorporate a wide variation of memory, perception, problem-solving, and conceptualising problems. Some impairments in this category are severe and have a can have significant effect on the person's ability. Impairment can also be developed with the ageing process.
    (Lisa Seeman,

  • Easy Read and other advice about writing for people with learning disabilities
    "For a long while now, I've been worrying about how to design forms for people with learning disabilities. It's not been a pressing problem because frankly, a lot of the forms that I work with don't even work for people with post-graduate degrees and specific training in the subject area of the form. But recently I've noticed a trend: sometimes I come across a form that's really not too bad. So I'm increasingly thinking about how to make forms more accessible--and that's restarted an interest in learning disabilities."
    (Caroline Jarrett, Usability News)

  • How to avoid screen reader 'noise pollution'
    "Surely there can't be a skill to writing ALT text for images? You just pop a description in there and you're good to go, right? Well, kind of. Sure, it's not rocket science, but there are a few guidelines you need to follow."
    (Trenton Moss,

  • How to make figures and presentations that are friendly to colorblind people
    "There are always colorblind people among the audience and readers. There should be more than ten colorblinds in a room with 250 people (50% male and 50% female). There is a good chance that the paper you submit may go to colorblind reviewers. Supposing that your paper will be reviewed by three white males (which is not unlikely considering the current population in science), the probability that at least one of them is colorblind is whopping 22%!"
    (Masataka Okabe & Kei Ito, Barrier Free)

  • How to make your blog accessible to blind readers
    "So you have a blog, and you're worried that it might not be accessible to people with disabilities? Don't worry! A few simple changes can increase your blog's potential readership."
    (American Foundation for the Blind)

  • Inaccessibility of CAPTCHA: alternatives to visual turing tests on the web
    "A common method of limiting access to services made available over the Web is visual verification of a bitmapped image. This presents a major problem to users who are blind, have low vision, or have a learning disability such as dyslexia. This document examines a number of potential solutions that allow systems to test for human users while preserving access by users with disabilities."
    (Matt May, W3C)

  • On scalable text
    "In order to provide scalable text, make textual information text (rather than images), and use relative text sizes (rather than absolute). Scalable text is important for people with low vision. The basics of providing scalable text are very simple. However, strict design requests can pose challenges."
    (Shawn Lawton Henry, UI Access)

  • Readability and its implications for web content accessibility
    "One area of accessibility often overlooked is the readability of the content of your web pages. Not every user may be familiar with terms or terminology being used. Others may not have the same socio-political background, literacy skills or capacity to fully comprehend what it is you are saying. One goal of the content author then is to try and identify their target audience, and then ensures that they are not 'writing over their heads'."
    (Web Accessibility Technical Services)

  • Relative sizing and images
    Few people realise that with today's modern browsers, relative sizing can be added to images as well as text elements on your web page.
    (Web Accessibility Technical Services)

  • The accessibility hat trick: getting abbreviations right
    "As web designers and developers, our job is to integrate text and markup in ways that best meet the needs and expectations of multiple groups of users. For AAA-level conformance, we need to effectively communicate expanded forms of abbreviations to everybody, requiring techniques focused simultaneously on users-agents and users directly. This is where the hat trick comes into play: by taking an approach that is compliant with both current and soon-to-be-current standards, backwards compatible to non-compliant user-agents, and fully accessible (i.e. usable, and providing the same information to all users) we can achieve the effective communication we're shooting for."
    (Colin Lieberman, A List Apart)

  • Tips and tools: Adobe Acrobat and PDF
    "After HTML, PDF (Portable Document Format) files are probably the most common files on the Web. PDF is usually used when a file needs to appear or print a certain way, regardless of the browser or technology. PDF files can be made accessible to people with disabilities, although usually with more difficulty than with HTML. A key part of this process involves creating tags that make a document more accessible to screen reader users."
    (Johnathan Whiting, National Center on Disability and Access to Education)

  • Web design for dyslexic users
    A short list of guidelines for designing for users with dyslexia.
    (Davis Dyslexia Association International)

  • Writing for accessibility
    "Disregarding issues concerning the use of abbreviations, typography, headings, and other semantic structures in HTML, the simple use of punctuation can be a significant barrier... A sentence can be punctuated with perfect correctness but still lose clarity when spoken by a screen reader. It’s a matter of the lack of refinement in screen reader voice interpretation."
    (Joe Dolson, Accessible Web Design)