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I just received a timely article from Campus Technology (07/07/11)Web Accessibility for All.  Dian Schaffhauser has interviewed accessibility specialist Terrill Thompson about common pitfalls to avoid when creating accessible sites, especially portals.  Since our department is working on a new portal, these tips are useful for us.

Here are some things to consider:

  • People use different browsers.
  • People may use different devices – mobile, desktops, laptops.
  • People have different needs around screen resolution, font size, color.
  • People may have visual impairment, including blindness.
  • People can’t use a mouse.

The latest version of web accessibility guidelines are found at http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/ . Thompson points out that most institutions of higher education do not meet these standards. I know our institution does not.

Blunders that are mentioned in this article include:

  • Lack of headings or incorrect use of headings.
  • Poor keyboard navigation, or none at all.
  • Use of rich media which may require a mouse to hover in order to cause a menu to pull down, fly out or some other thing.

Thomson ends with this advice:

… it is a lot more cost effective to build in accessibility from the beginning rather than to have to go back and make things accessible later.

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