Constructing a POUR Website
Functionality Across Current and Future Technologies
People bring various devices, operating systems, browsers, plugins, screen readers, and assistive hardware to the web—and a wide variety of versions of all of those as well. Some users enable advanced features. Others turn them off. Some are eager early adopters of every new technology, some cling to the familiar until it stops working for them, and most are somewhere in between.
Despite the differences between users and the technologies they use, they all expect the web to work. When they go to a site that does not support their technologies, they get frustrated and may never return. When users can choose their own technologies, this empowers them to tailor their technologies to their needs, including accessibility needs. Generally, the more control the user has, the more likely the user will be able to access the content effectively.
Of course, reasonable limits apply to this logic. Designers and developers should not feel forced to accommodate outdated browsers that are no longer supported by their own creators. They should feel free to take advantage of technological advances, including in areas related to accessibility. When considering implementation of innovative technologies and techniques, they must strike a balance between pushing innovation boundaries and considering the technologies their end users will be using, employing graceful degradation where appropriate.
Using Technologies According to Specification
Typically, browsers accommodate some sloppy coding—a missing
</p> tag will not crash the page, for example—but they cannot correct or compensate for all errors and inconsistencies that developers introduce in web content. The best way to ensure that content displays properly and accessibly across browsers, platforms, and assistive technologies is to write valid HTML and ARIA.
Rather than focus on the limitations of old technologies, it is often helpful to focus on the possibilities offered by current and future technologies. WebAIM's Screen Reader User Surveys indicate that most screen reader users tend to use up-to-date browsers and screen readers, though there will always be some who lag. To create content that is compatible with future technologies, it is necessary to use current technologies according to specification, so that future browsers and assistive technologies will be able to interpret the content and facilitate the desired user experience.