Designing for accessibility is now an intrinsic part of web design for a variety of reasons, such as avoiding discrimination, differences between browsers and improving search engine ranking. In a University context, theSpecial Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 and the Disability Discrimination Act make it a legal requirement for websites to be usable irrespective of disability.
In line with these latest requirements and guidelines, the central section of the Queen’s University Website has been designed to meet Level AA (2) of the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C-AA) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. All new University sites are also designed to conform to W3C-AA standards.
When developing your content you should try, where possible, to make your website accessible to people with disabilities. Explore the following links to learn more about accessibility issues.
- Images & animations: Use the alt attribute to describe the function of each visual element.
- Writing text: Make text as clear as possible. For example, if the content on a page is long, provide a simple summary of the content at the top of the page, break the content down into manageable sections and use anchor links to navigate through the content. Remember that how users read on the web is different to how they read a printed page.
- Multimedia. Provide captioning and transcripts of audio, and descriptions of video.
- Hypertext links. Use text that makes sense when read out of context. For example, avoid 'click here'
- Page organization. Use headings, lists, and consistent structure.
- Scripts, applets, & plug-ins. Provide alternative content in case active features are inaccessible or unsupported. For example, if you are displaying a video on your web page, also provide a text version.
- Tables. Make line-by-line reading sensible. Summarise. Avoid using tables to layout content unless it contains tabular data.
- Check your work. Validate. Use tools, checklist, and guidelines at http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG
Assistive Technologies used for Web Browsing
Individuals with a disability often use assistive technologies to enable and assist web browsing, such as:
- Screen reader software, which can read out, using synthesized speech, either selected elements of what is being displayed on the monitor (helpful for users with reading or learning difficulties), or which can read out everything that is happening on the computer (used by blind and vision impaired users).
- Braille terminals, consisting of a Refreshable Braille display which renders text as Braille characters (usually by means of raising pegs through holes in a flat surface) and either a QWERTY or Braille keyboard.
- Screen magnification software, which enlarges what is displayed on the computer monitor, making it easier to read for vision impaired users.
- Speech recognition software that can accept spoken commands to the computer, or turn dictation into grammatically correct text - useful for those who have difficulty using a mouse or a keyboard.
- Keyboard overlays, which can make typing easier and more accurate for those who have motor control difficulties.