Web Accessibility: One Step at a Time

In this first in an occasional series, we’ll take a look at some common web accessibility issues and ways to address them.

To start, let’s put accessibility at the beginning of the process, not at the end. When you’re sitting at the computer, contemplating your new website design, integrate accessibility into the planning stage.

  • Decide on your level of conformance: Are you a federal program? If so, Section 508 is the “law of the land” but hardly the end of the road. The Web Accessibility Initiative has three conformance levels to choose from.
  • Design doesn’t suffer for accessibility. You can build a beautiful website with plenty of functionality and still be accessible.
  • Alternative text: Commit to text alternatives for any meaningful images, flash movies, and audio clips. Integrating these in the design and development phase won’t add much time to your plan. Adding them after the fact will!
  • Embrace CSS: Create a style sheet for your entire site and use it well. You can avoid using tables and little tiny gifs. Really!
  • TEST TEST TEST! Turn off images, toggle off the style sheet, use alternative browsers, unplug your mouse.

These are just a few things to consider early on. We’ll take a look at all 16 points in Section 508, as well as the 3 levels of conformance in upcoming posts. For now, start thinking accessibly. You’ll save yourself and your organization time and money.

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