Accessibility in web design

30 Jan 2009Greg read

In actual fact, accessibility is about treating everyone– no matter what their ability–the same. It also needn’t cost any extra – by creating websites with accessibility in mind you can write your code to the standards and have it accessible with no extra effort. Bolting on accessibility features as an afterthought (such as builders adding a ramp to a building which previously only had stairs) can be inefficient and expensive. Websites created by Rubious always have accessibility in mind.

Some of the common mistakes which hinder accessibility:

  • Building websites with tables/frames – two old practices which create complicated and messy code – screen readers have trouble understanding the order to read things in and the invalid code causes problems
  • Using images with no text alternative, often websites will be created as a large image which is chopped up – text in images cannot be read by screen readers, and cannot be enlarged for people with poor vision.
  • Using Flash for websites – although Adobe are making great strides to improve the accessibility of Flash, it still cannot compare to plain text. Additionally, people using older versions of screen readers (they are expensive!) will not have the latest updates that allow Flash to be readable.

An added benefit is that Google and other search engines act just like disabled viewers – they are not currently able to see text in images, they struggle reading Flash content and prefer HTML valid web pages. This means in ensuring your website is accessible you are also improving your search engine ranking.