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Designing for accessibility

VIEWS: 16 PAGES: 2

									Do you know your target audience, their demographics, how comfortable they are00:04with specific
interface types, or how they prefer to find information within your site?00:09Many designers finding
answers to all these questions without answering a00:12very simple question.00:13What percentage of
my users will have some form of disability and how can I make00:17my content more accessible to
them?00:20If the answer to the above question is any at all, you need to have a strategy00:24for
designing your site with accessibility in mind.00:26Honestly, regardless of your target audience, having a
strategy for accessible00:30content is extremely important, whether it is a mobile device, screen reader
or toaster oven.00:36More and more devices are accessing your web content everyday.00:40As such
removing barriers to that content regardless of device should be an00:44important goal of your design
process.00:47It's also important to be vigilant about your potential clients'
responsibilities00:51regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act.00:53In 1998, Congress passed
Section 508 of the ADA and that requires that all00:58federal agencies make their information
technology accessible to people with disabilities.01:03Since then, the law has been broadly applied to
any site receiving government01:07funding and even applied to commercial sites in specific
instances.01:11Depending upon your client, accessibility might not be just a good idea but01:16it might
also be the law.01:17You can learn more about your responsibilities by visiting the
government's01:21website on Section 508.01:23The good news is that designing with a focus on
accessibility requires no more01:27effort than any other means.01:28It just requires that you stay
focused on it throughout the process.01:32Here are a few of the things that you can do to ensure that
your sites meet01:35Section 508 requirements.01:37First, make sure that your focus is on the content
and not on the design of the site.01:41Now as a designer, that can be tough.01:43We want to design,
but in truth, the goal of all design is to clearly01:48communicate ideas or information. Content in other
words.01:52Making sure that you communicate the content of the page through clear
structured01:55HTML is very important and essential to making that content the focus of your
design.02:00Although screen readers and other devices might not be able to see your02:03advanced
JavaScript interfaces or use the latest Flash widget that you've created,02:08they can all read well
structured HTML.02:11Make that the foundation of your site and you're halfway there.02:14Navigation
is just as important to those with disabilities as those without and02:19it's a good idea to make sure
your site navigation addresses both, since CSS02:23allows us to control our layout and position
elements as we wish.02:27Consider where navigation is found within the flow of the page as a way
of02:31presenting it to your non-visual users.02:33Should the navigation appear early to give those
users choices?02:36Do you want to give them the ability to skip the navigation and
proceed02:40directly to the content?02:41Remember that screen readers read the page in the order
that the content appears.02:45Repetitive content can make such an experience frustrating and
boring.02:49Not something you want for your users.02:51Next, learn how to make HTML content
accessible.02:55That in itself could be a title, so I don't have time here to list every02:58technique to
accessible design.03:00But I do want to mention some of the most important steps.03:02First, make
sure all images have alternate text so that screen readers and other03:07devices understand the subject
matter of the images.03:10Provide longer descriptions for images that have detailed content
like03:13pie charts or graphs.03:14Next, learn how to make form elements accessible.03:17Trying to fill
out and submit a form that lacks structure and has inaccessible03:21elements is difficult and likely to
frustrate more than a few users.03:25There aren't many things that you need to do to form elements to
ensure03:28accessibility and they will easily fit within your normal document workflow.03:32In addition
to forms, make sure that you know how to make tables accessible.03:36Making sure tables have
captions and summaries, using structures such as thead03:41and tbody, and associating table content
with table headers through column or row03:44associations are important table accessibility
techniques.03:48Also, if your site makes heavy use of Ajax-driven interfaces, Flash content,03:52or
video, make sure you provide alternate content for screen readers or other devices.03:58In the case of
video, be sure to provide closed captioning for your viewers.04:02Flash comes with a captioning
component that can make adding simple captions04:05to your videos a snap.04:07Following these basic
steps can help ensure that your sites meet04:09accessibility requirements.04:11Adopting an
accessibility focused workflow it isn't hard to do.04:14It's just something you should get in the practice
of doing.04:17If you're new to web design, by adopting this workflow early, you will just make04:20it
part of how you design sites.04:22Now, I should mention that tools such as Dreamweaver have
accessibility04:25options built into them.04:27So make sure you explore the accessibility features of the
tools that you04:30used to build websites.04:31Often, they will do the majority of this work for
you.04:35I also recommend strongly that you download one of the many popular screen04:38readers
such as Jaws, Thunder or a Microsoft's Narrator.04:42Test your page in one of those screen readers and
I think you'll find it changes04:45your perspective on designing for accessibility.04:48As you learn Web
design, focusing on accessibility early in the process will04:52ensure that your pages are available to the
widest possible audience and that04:56should be the goal of all designers.

								
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