Website Accessibility and the Law - Joe Clark

I just had to post this link to the HTML version of a chapter about "Accessibility and the Law" from the book Building Accessible Websites by Joe Clark, 2002. This webpage provides easy to understand information about both the 'Americans with Disabilities Act' and the 'U.S. Section 508' requirements.

Joe Clark really knows his stuff when it comes to accessibility and I have learnt a lot from his publications & articles. I hope you find the link interesting.

The whole book is also available for online reading here :

If you have any questions about accessibility and the law, don't hesitate to contact me.

Visit me at : Simplicity User Experience Optimisation

Posted byCharlie M at 09:19 0 comments  

Accessible Twitter

Did you know that there is an accessible version of twitter?

It had long been known that has some accessibility issues... No keyboard access to favorite/reply/delete, few headings, inflexible layout width...
However, Denis Lembree has created a site to fix these issues:

The project is currently in Beta, but first impressions are good!

Here are the Accessibility Features offered :

* All links are keyboard accessible.
* DM, Favorite, Reply, Re-tweet, and Delete links are all visible by default.
* Simple, consistent layout and navigation (and signed-in username always displayed).
* Headings and page titles are implemented for optimal accessibility. This includes an H3 heading (for author screen name) added to tweets to assist with screen reader users.
* Works great with or without JavaScript.
* Ajax actions are concluded with an alert that notifies the user of the result of the action.
* Large default text size and high color contrast. Layout/text resizes without breaking.
* When entering tweets, audio cues indicate when the character limit is almost reached (in addition to character counter).
* Forms and data tables are marked up for optimal accessibility.
* Code is semantic, light, and adheres to best practices in Web Standards.
* If a tweet is in response to another (and marked as such in the data), a clearer link is provided to the that tweet (not hidden). There's also a more obvious link to the "permanent page" for the tweet.
* A clearer link is provided for the "permanent" link for a tweet; the page containing only a single tweet.
* Tested on all major browsers: IE6, IE7, IE8, Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Chrome.

Visit me at : Simplicity User Experience Optimisation

Posted byCharlie M at 05:58 0 comments  

Apple (and iPhone) Accessibility

Here are a few links to the Apple site that documents their commitment to Accessibility.

Like many other User Experience specialists, I am a big Apple fan. I'm always impressed by their sleak design, and intuitive software. Since I spend so much time at my computer, it might as well be as enjoyable as possible!

One thing that I didn't realise was that Apple have introduced screen reader to the iPhone- VoiceOver..."It’s the world’s first gesture-based screen reader, enabling you to enjoy the fun and simplicity of iPhone even if you can’t see the screen."

iPhone VoiceOver image

Keep up the good work Apple!

Visit me at : Simplicity User Experience Optimisation

Posted byCharlie M at 05:23 0 comments  

New accessibility features in Firefox 3.5

A very quick link post discussing the 'New accessibility features in Firefox 3.5':

Out of interest, what browser do you use for accessibility testing / browsing / web design?

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Posted byCharlie M at 13:11 0 comments  

Free Accessibility PDF from Jakob Nielsen : "Beyond ALT Text: Making the Web Easy to Use for Users With Disabilities"

Jakob Nielsen (the web usability GURU) offered a free accessibility report as a new years gift in 2008. I missed the boat (for some reason...) so have only just got round to reading it. Make sure you read it too!

Here is a summary from the Nielsen Norman Group website:


The report contains:

  • Results of usability tests of 19 websites with users with several different types of disabilities who are using a range of assistive technology:
    • blind users using screen readers
    • blind users using Braille readers
    • low-vision users using screen magnifiers
    • motor-impaired users
  • Test data collected mainly in the United States, with some additional studies in Japan to ensure the international applicability of the recommendations
    • A total of 104 users participated in the usability studies:
    • 84 users with disabilities
    • 20 non-disabled users who served as a control group
  • 75 detailed design guidelines
The report is richly illustrated with 46 screenshots of designs that worked well or that caused difficulties for users with disabilities in the usability tests as well as 23 photos of assistive technology devices. The examples and guidelines are directly based on empirical observation of actual user behavior.

This report addresses the usability of websites and intranets. The report should be used together with the standards for technical accessibility of web pages. Obviously, technical accessibility is a pre-condition for usability: if users cannot get at the content of the web pages, they also cannot use the website. Technical accessibility is necessary, but not sufficient for usability of a design. Even if a site is theoretically accessible because it follows the technical accessibility standards to the letter, it can still be very hard to use for people with disabilities.

The fact that technical accessibility is insufficient to guarantee great usability, ease of learning, and high user performance should come as no surprise. After all, countless usability studies of websites and intranets have documented severe usability problems, low success rates, and sub-optimal user performance, even when testing users with no disabilities. Being able to see everything on a webpage certainly doesn't guarantee that you will know what to do on the page or the optimal way to perform your task. This observation holds equally true for users with disabilities: just because a site is technically accessible doesn't mean that it will be easy or fast to perform tasks on the site.

This report addresses the second level in improving the user experience of websites and intranets for people with disabilities. Yes, you must ensure technical accessibility but you should also ensure good usability, ease of use, and high productivity for employees and customers with disabilities.

Here is the link:

Posted byCharlie M at 03:01 0 comments  

Discounted introductory rates - Simplicity User Experience Optimisation

Although it this is something I don’t really like to do… here is a little plug for my new business – ‘Simplicity User Experience Optimisation’ based in Brighton, UK :

To establish a healthy client base, we are offering heavily discounted introductory rates to our new clients…. So why not contact us for a quote :

Remember no job is too small!

We look forward to working with you.

Posted byCharlie M at 05:39 0 comments  

Web Accessibility Statements- are they required?

Web accessibility statements are common place in websites these days. However, are they really required? Shouldn't the accessibility of the page speak for itself? I would certainly be interested to hear what people think about this topic.

Nomensa, ( state that there are two basic functions of the Accessibility Statement :

"Firstly, it presents clear information about the target level of web accessibility for the website and the methods used to achieve those targets. It also enables the website owner to acknowledge any areas of the website where accessibility targets have not been met and to outline the proposed plan for resolving any such problem.

Secondly, an accessibility statement is a powerful declaration of commitment. People visiting the website, particularly those with disabilities, will appreciate the open acknowledgement that accessibility is a key driver for the website. A word of caution however, an accessibility statement that makes rash or false claims will only damage the reputation of the website, not enhance it!"

In my experience, Accessibility Statements are often technically complex, and are jam packed with technical jargon- which makes it difficult for average users to understand. This can exclude their use (or purpose?) for average users. Perhaps we need to understand who actually reads the statements, and focus the content accordingly? Are they written with the users or developers in mind? Or both?

Another common question is what we should include in our accessibility statements? Well, in essence there are no hard and set rules. However, Juicy Studio and Nomensa have both written great articles about what makes a good accessibility statement. Please find the hyperlinks to these articles below.

To me, the most important uses of Accessibility Statements are to a) show your personal or corporate commitment to accessibility and b) to provide contact details for feedback. Is it really necessary to include the technical techniques and methods used to achieve accessibility goals?

I would be interested to hear your thoughts!

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Posted byCharlie M at 05:06 0 comments  

The In-accessibility of CAPTCHA

Don't you just hate CAPTCHA... "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart"? The user experience of using CAPTCHA is terrible, and always a pain. I often get them wrong, and they slow down the browsing experience.

They are also in-accessible.

Recently, I have seen an increase in audio CAPTCHA which is a positive step (at least accessibility is being considered), but an alternative would be better. ..

Here is a detailed spec writing by W3c discussing the possible alternatives to CAPTCHA:

In addition, here is an article from WebAIM discussing the alternatives to 'spam free accessible forms':

These articles certainly leave food for thought.

In a future post, I will discuss SAPTCHA (Semi Automatic Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart) which is a proposed solution to the accessibility problems of CAPTCHA.

Let me know if you have any thoughts / comments regarding SAPTCHA, CAPTCHA and it's various alternatives.

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Posted byCharlie M at 04:58 1 comments  

Web accessibility law in other countries

I recently posted a link to an informative article which discusses in basic terms what is required to make a US web site legal against the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) from a web accessibility viewpoint.

Here is an another 'beginners guide style ' article which covers accessibility law in other countries...

In addition, please find the extremely informative article about UK accessibility laws from the RNIB. Essential reading:

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Posted byCharlie M at 09:34 0 comments  

Accessibility for children - CBBC Accessible Newsreader

This is a great article from the BBC about their new CBBC Accessible Newsreader -

The focus is accessibility for children using switch technology- particularly for those users with complex physical disabilities, including near total loss of motor control, who are not able to use a keyboard or mouse.

Keep up the good work BBC!

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Posted byCharlie M at 09:23 0 comments  

Accessibility testing resources in Brighton & Hove, UK

I found this URL which lists some useful resources for contacting visually impaired people in the Brighton and Hove, UK, for accessibility testing:

In my experience, finding suitable candidates for accessibility testing can be very difficult, so these resources could be a good place for fellow Brighton'ers to start. In recent years I have had to drive all the way across the UK to find the suitable users for testing sessions!

If you need any advice or help with accessibility / usability / user experience testing sessions, please don't hesitate to get in-touch. I'm always keen to get involved.

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Posted byCharlie M at 05:25 0 comments  

Accessibility generator for skip navigation links

This is a great tool for those creating "skip navigation links" to improve accessibility for keyboard-only users. This generator creates skiplinks, CSS, JS, etc. Should save lots of your precious time! I'm looking forward to giving it a go myself.

There is also a video tutorial here:


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Posted byCharlie M at 02:17 0 comments  

An interesting article about whether your website is legal...

Here is a short and simple article from the "e-commerce resource unit" about whether or not your website is legal. The article discusses the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) in basic terms :

Visit me at : h

Posted byCharlie M at 05:25 0 comments  

How do you teach a blind person HTML?

Interesting post on accessify... how do you teach a blind person HTML...?

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Posted byCharlie M at 03:53 0 comments

Do you have your own website? Are you working on a web project and need some advice? Are you thinking of building a website but don't know where to start? Would you like to improve your users web experience?

Come and see my new website... Simplicity User Experience Optimisation:

If you would like to use any of my services, please don't hesitate to get in touch (the best way is via email... You are sure to be pleasantly surprised by the quality of the service I offer AND my rates!

Remember, no job is too small!

Posted byCharlie M at 03:55 0 comments