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From: Paul Bohman
Date: Jan 13, 2000 11:05AM


Recently, I was asked to make a list of the "easiest" things that a person
can do to increase accessibility. I'm going to pass this list on to the
listserv. My list is not complete, but it does represent one way of getting
started on accessibility improvements. If you already have an existing site
(and most of you do), it makes sense to make changes in stages. The items
below may be part of a stage 1 or stage 2 effort:
* Make sure that every image, java applet, object has an ALT tag.
* include a document declaration (e.g. <!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD
HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd">) in
the HTML and make sure that the pages validate to the declaration. An HTML
validator is found at: http://validator.w3.org/
* Make sure that your page passes "Bobby" approval (online validator is
found at http://www.cast.org/bobby)
* Find out if your pages is still intelligible in a text-only browser. You
can do this online at http://www.delorie.com/web/lynxview.html
* If you have a navigational menu at the top of your page, provide a link
that allows the user to skip the menu. Put the link destination (anchor) at
the beginning of the main content of the page.
* Include the language attribute (e.g. <HTML lang="en">) in every page. This
is a change that is very easy to make.
* Auto-refresh/auto-redirect: Until user agents provide the ability to stop
the refresh/stop auto-redirect, do not create periodically auto-refreshing
pages.
* Spawned windows: Until user agents allow users to turn off spawned
windows, do not cause pop-ups or other windows to appear and do not change
the current window without informing the user. For those cases in which
spawned windows "must" be used, the user should be informed first e.g. <a
href="www.something.com">Link to something (opens a new window)</a>. In
general, however, spawned windows should be avoided.
* Frames: frames are inherently problematic, but they are not taboo. Take a
hard look at your frames-based pages. Are they really necessary? In many
cases they are not. If possible, get rid of your frames. Just remember to
use them wisely, and only if necessary.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The above changes will improve the accessibility of your website
dramatically, even though it is only a beginning. Below are some other (also
important) changes which may require a little more work:
* Get rid of your deprecated (outdated) tags such as <FONT>, <B> (bold), <I>
(italic), <U> (underline), <ALIGN>, etc. Replace them with style sheet
attributes. I realize that style sheets are new to many people. There are
many sources on the Web and in print to learn about style sheets. One of
them is http://wdvl.com/Authoring/Style/Sheets/Intro/
* Make sure that your style sheets validate to the w3c validator
(http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/)
* Make sure that your pages meet the rest of the USU accessibility
guidelines (http://www.webaim.org/usu/guidelines.htm)
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
If you have any comments to add, or questions, please email the listserv at
<EMAIL REMOVED> . You can also click on "reply to ALL" or a
similar command in your email program (if you don't reply to ALL, it will
send the message to me only).
Paul Bohman
Web Accessibility in Mind (WebAIM)