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Re: site accessibility audits

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From: Terence de Giere
Date: Apr 21, 2004 6:10PM


In addition to the other good advice given on the forum:

1. Check for pages that are created with a template and test the
template or at least one of the pages. Database driven sites often have
many templated pages that are all essentially the same.

2. If the site has interactive pages where the user must complete a
task, that may require several pages in sequence, try to identify the
most critical tasks important to the site, and analyze those page
sequences. In particular, determine if the task be completed if
scripting (client-side scripting like JavaScript) is turned off, and
images are turned off. Try completing the task using only the keyboard.

3. Check for timeouts - blind users may take over three times as long as
sighted users to complete a task. If it takes you three minutes to
complete a task, some other users may take nine minutes or longer to
finish the same task. Always think in terms of the whole sequence rather
than individual pages even if the user is just looking for a certain
piece of information to read - there might be a certain page in the
sequence that causes problems, preventing the location of the final
page. This can help identify major accessibility weak points that affect
many more pages than just the page the error is on, because the user
will always be stopped at that page even if all the other pages are 100%
compliant with W3C Triple-A accessibility guidelines.

4. Check for unusually long navigation paths to pages that could be
shortened. Many sites have circuitous navigation routes where a simpler
navigation scheme would be just as easy to construct. This often happens
when a web site grows organically and the addition of new sections or
pages is basically an unplanned work-around of the original navigation
system for the site. Simple and easy navigation is one item an automated
checker cannot fathom.

5. Some accessibility checking software can catalog problems as
percentages of the total pages, giving a rough idea of how many pages on
a site might need fixing, at least for problems that can be
automatically detected. It would not be necessary to review all the
individual pages, just present the summary data.

6. Spellcheck a sampling of pages.

7. It can be helpful to present the results in priority form, with the
most egregious problems first, with an estimate of how difficult it will
be to fix them. If the site's problems are numerous and the site
complex, it may be necessary to repair them in stages.

Vischeck (online) definitely does not work with Flash, but as previously
mentioned by Chris Heilmann, using the Vischeck Photoshop plug in with a
screen capture works fine, and if you have the software, its faster and
the resulting images can be inserted into a report. If you print a
report, a color printer is best for pages showing color blindness
effects. Grayscale is misleading, and black and white monitors are rare
these days. Complete color blindness, achromatopia, is very rare, with
only the rod cells in the eye functioning - blues and greens appear
light and reds very dark or black. Grayscale renders greens lighter,
reds in the middle, and blues darker. Vischeck does not simulate
achromatopia, only the most common forms of red-green color blindness,
and one rarer form.

Terence de Giere
<EMAIL REMOVED>



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