May 19, 2019
Accessible Information Websites – Practical Actions
- No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted - Aesop
- Are you concerned about accessibility and your website?  Some claim accessible checkers are adequate. But these programs can only provide a superficial overview. Go out into your community, offer web tutorials and support at libraries, schools, religious, medical and community centers. When mentoring cancer patients searching for knowledge about their condition and treatment on the web, I learned valuable knowledge regarding how to create accessible websites.
Mentoring – A Mutual Learning Tool
- 1. Remember the definition of assume - makes an ass out of u and me when designing websites. There is a difference between local and global. A user can report, I am having trouble with such and such. Some designers/developers make the assumption there is no problem because, I can …. on my local machine. No global/universal standard for devices, connections, browsers, resolution, etc exists.
2. By leaving the computer lab and entering a community of users, the web designer/developer experiences practical knowledge.
- Interacting with a variety of devices.
- Interacting with a variety of connections.
- Interacting with diverse users.
- Interacting with different browsers and their multiple versions.
- Interacting with those compromised by physical limitations.
- Learning how users struggle with websites that are not accessible. Much like watching those in wheelchairs, those using assistive walking devices, those using aids for visually impaired, etc. struggling to access a location, whose entrance is stairs.
- Ideas for Mentoring/Tutoring
- Best is to have small classes/sessions, with focused themes. For instance, Tips for searching the web. How to use your tablet, etc. Do not limit these events to lectures. Handouts may be helpful.
- Be prepared to provide personal hands on-help. Recognize no question is stupid.
- What may be obvious, to you the web person, is not necessarily obvious to a user.
- The directions for desktops may say, press the power key, forgetting there are two power keys – one for the monitor and one for the tower.
- Some complain there is not a sufficient differentiation between computer button colors. Will placing a brightly colored tag make a difference?
- How to use keyboard shortcuts, when the site is mouse driven.
- Is there a work around for sites trapped by CSS?
- Check regarding problematic colors and images.
- Check will the fonts change size easily?
- Are captions included for those with hearing issues?
- You may need to find creative solutions, when aiding users who are compromised by strokes, broken bones, tremors, lymphedema, vision or hearing issues, etc.
- Website Clinics
- Another idea is to offer a hands on help overview with existing websites. Here the designer can gain valuable insight regarding what works, and what does not. Volunteering with community organizations, political campaigns, schools, etc is a great way to expand your knowledge and give back.
- Lists and Menus Accessibility Issue
- - When the list/menu consists of a series of options closely spaced, users with physical limitations may have problems clicking on the right link.
- One idea is to insert an empty break line after two to three links/lines in a list.
- Remember browsers may or may not render your beautiful bullet points. For this reason, I prefer using a simple dash before a list item.
- HTML and ASCII
- Have you ever been on a website littered with question marks or numbers such as #157? HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is not a word processing language. If you choose invalid character codes with a number higher than 127, you may be on the road to sloppy looking web pages. Even though there are many special characters available for web pages, the only universal characters are those that appear on your keyboard. ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) is the built-in binary code (read by the computer) for representing the characters of the keyboard (you the user can read). If you want your website to be used by anyone, anywhere, anyplace without any concern for platform, browser, monitor, or computer, use ASCII hex (Hexadecimal) code.
- Paper Password Backups
- Create paper information sheet(s) containing passwords and logins for your personal and business computers, websites and email accounts. Place in a safe place, for instance a safety deposit box (not taped to your computer). Let your executor know where this vital information can be found.
- Host/Cloud Companies
- Does the company have a disaster policy? What happens to your data, if servers are destroyed or compromised? Make sure you have backups of your website and data.
- Browsing Security
- Completely clear your browser cache after or during each session. Do you want websites stalking you?
Do you want your browser bloated by installed temporary cookies, history, data, etc.?
Choose the private browsing windows option. When you close the browser window, all the connected information will be erased. Warning – some websites will deny you access. Do you want to view a website that demands the right to stalk you?
Another suggestion is to use VPN (virtual private network).
- Lynx Browser
- The Lynx text browser [2, 3] is an invaluable tool for checking the accessibility of your site, creating SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and ensuring backwards compatibility.
- Websites – Living Online Organisms
- Websites are never finished and never complete. A good website is a living online organism that is ever evolving. Maintenance, updates, and changes must be considered.
Remember! You (the local machine/designer) have no control over what browser, operating system, screen colors, screen resolution, or machine is being used to view an external website. Not everyone has the latest and greatest. Best is to write a website with backwards compatibility in mind.
- Keep your computer data secure! Just like pregnancy, it only takes one unprotected moment.
Links Of Interest
- 1. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- 2. Lynxlet
- 3. Lynx is the text web browser