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.