WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

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RE: Help on approach for annotating images


From: Jukka K. Korpela
Date: Dec 3, 2005 8:20AM

On Sat, 3 Dec 2005, Malcolm Wotton wrote:

> I have a site that has 2 skins - one with fewer images, and larger black
> white text to aid visually impaired users.

Are you sure that's the right approach? It would help at most _some_
visually impaired users. Skins might be nice for customizability and
personalization, but they are not very relevant to accessibility, except
as a problem.

A site should be designed so that it can be viewed with all or some images
replaced by their alt texts, as well as with color scheme or font size
changed. This is far more important than designing a particular skin
for some assumed set of users.

Of course, there might be special cases, but it's impossible to guess
whether this is one of them (no URL was specified).

> I use access keys for the
> standards that exist (there is a UK government standard).

I don't think there is, but even if there is, you shouldn't use it unless
forced to. Access keys (at least as currently defined and implemented)
mostly _reduce_ accessibility.

> I have a
> disability access page with information about the alternative view.

Why? To be useful, the alternative needs to be announced on the normal
main page _and_ all normal pages, since you cannot know which page will be
entered first.

> My question is - how do I let users know there is an alternative view of the
> site.

Obviously, by saying it near the start of each page. This inevitably means
some distraction, and this should be taken as part of the costs of
offering alternative views. Naturally, an alternative view page should
also contain a link to the normal version.

> My concern is that a visually impaired user will struggle with the
> ordinary site to the extent they won't even find out about the alternative.

That's a typical problem of sites that offer alternative views, usually
caused by a completely misunderstanding of accessibility. The link
to the alternative version is misplaced and in small font, sometimes even
wrongly named. Moreover, it is usually unknown to visitors whether the
alternative version contains the same information as the normal version.
It often _looks_ (or sounds) like a second-class version to second-class

Thus, _if_ you have an alternate version that is somehow essential to
accessibility (as opposite to different skins for different tastes),
- link to it visibly on every page
- put the link near the start
- name it descriptively

Jukka "Yucca" Korpela, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/