Tuesday, March 15, 2005

"Clear and simple language"

One of the guidelines in the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines that I have seen people having the hardest time following is guideline 14, "Ensure that documents are clear and simple so they may be more easily understood."

People seem to miss the idea that if you want people read your web site, the user needs to understand what your talking about.

Jakob Nielsen recently did a study about how users with lower literacy have a hard time with web sites. They don't scan what they read. They read it word for word and often miss the whole "gist" of you are talk about. Simplyfing the wording increases the usability and improves the users understanding of your content.
Lower-literacy users exhibit very different reading behaviors than higher-literacy users: they plow text rather than scan it, and they miss page elements due to a narrower field of view...

The main and most obvious advice is to simplify the text: use text aimed at a 6th grade reading level on the homepage, important category pages, and landing pages. On other pages, use text geared to an 8th grade reading level.

Friday, March 11, 2005

IE Commit's to Web Standards

In a recent blog entry, Chris Wilson, Lead Programmer for Microsoft IE, said that Microsoft is committed to adding a mode to IE 7 that will include a strong compliance to W3C web standards. Woohooo.

This makes me excited. Does it make you excited?

Thursday, March 10, 2005

a great web accessibility booklet

There have been a lot of reall great web sites that have talked about techniques to incorporate web accessibility into your web sites but there really haven't been a whole lot of great books or handouts.

HP and the Bartiméus Accessibility Foundation have put together a really excellent booklet (like 60 pages) on web accessibility.

The booklet, Access all WWW Areas, is availabe in HTML, PDF, and can be ordered online for paper format.

I think this would work great as a text book for web development classes.

starting class at RIT

Well I have started class up again this week. I am a student at the Rochester Institute of Technology. I am pursuing a undergraduate degree in Information Technology with concentrations in Web Development and Human Computer Interaction.

I am sure that because of classes and the discussions that I will have with professors, I will have plenty of fodder for posts.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

appropriate alt text

One thing that people hear the most about in terms of web accessibility is that they have to have alternative text for the images that they put on their web sites.

This means that for every decorative bullet, color gif, spacer image, and photo a lot have developers have some type of descriptive alternative text. Which is not what they should be doing.

I then get asked often when is it appropriate to have certain types of alt text and where.

Webcredible has written a really good article, Writing effective ALT text for images. It is right on in the guidelines that it lays out for when to and not to use alt text for images.
But surely there can't be a skill to writing ALT text for images? You just pop a description in there and you're good to go, right? Well, kind of. Sure, it's not rocket science, but there are a few guidelines you need to follow...

Greetings from Boston

Greetings from Boston.

This week I will be posting from the Hyatt Harborside in Boston, Mass. I am at the W3C Technical Plenary.

In the Education & Outreach Working Group we are working on a lot of exciting things that will help the process of "infusing" web accessibility into the way the people and organizations view the web.