Webinar on Planning an Accessible Website



August 09, 2010

Everett Zufelt & I have agreed to present a webinar entitled Introduction to Accessibility and Planning for an Accessible Website. We'll be posting links to the archive when it's up, but wanted to ensure that the presentations were available online (along with a PDF version) before it went live in case people wanted to follow along this way.

This presentation is licensed under a Creative Commons Share-Alike license so please feel free to enhance/distribute it.

For those that missed it there is now a video archive of the presentation available.

Questions from the end of the presentation. I'm going to continue to edit/add to this list here:


Q: Could you possible recommend some well designed websites to look at for inspiration please?
A: Some good ones include WebAIM, and the BBC.
Q: What is the best Drupal tool to evaluate accessibility?
Mike: There isn't really a need for a Drupal native accessibility checker. In most cases tools like WebAIM's WAVE do just fine for Drupal, particularly with their Firefox plugin which does a good job of evaluating admin pages too. Everett: The only thing I would add is that with some of the tools, where there is a page without anonymous access, a lot of the tools will allow you to copy and paste the pages' source code as apposed to going to the page itself. Automated tools do a lot of the "heavy lifting" - it can tell you if there is not a heading, but part of the evaluation process has to be done manually.
Q: What is the state of tools support for WCAG 2.0, particularly for tables? Are tools like TinyMCE being tweaked to provide better support?
Everett: There are a lot of other tools, whether content management systems, which are still catching up on 2.0 standards, and Drupal, which is one of the most accessible management systems around, so there's a process. Tools like TinyMCE or CKEditor both of those have made significant improvements to becoming more accessible - it still needs to be configured and set up properly Everett: One of the challenges, particularly from screen readers, is something called a rich reader application, such as you might have on a desktop. Users of older technology might find challenges even with accessibility, as their tools don't support that technology.
Q: Hello. Any idea for when the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) will finish being defined?
Mike: To the best of my knowledge, the government has given no indication when it is going to be enacted as legislation. Once it is, however, it will depend.
Q: Mike, you talked about skip links earlier. what do you feel is best visible or not?
Mike: Spip links should be visible on Focus - one should be able to go right to the content and skip the navigational elements. Everett: Skip Links should always be visible on a page. When someone is tabbing through a site, everything that is available on your site to be activated, everything should be able to be accessed with the "Tab" key on your keyboard, and that there should be some kind of visual prompt to indicate where your tab key has landed. Everything available with a mouse should be available through the tab key
Q: Can you discuss the relationship between usability and accessibility?
The nicest way to see it is that accessibility is usability on steroids. However, it's really an interesting balancing act. You need both. There are times that they can be at odds with each other. The one thing that I do try to encourage is for usability folks to read up about the standards for accessibility & accessibility folks to read up about the principals of usability. They are two disciplines that definitely need to work better together.
Q: Specific question: ALT and LONGDESC. What are the best practices here?
Michael McCarthy in Ottawa: To Lauren: If you need more than 65 characters to convey an image textually, then a long description should be used. (Based on TBS standards)
Q: I've learned from countless experiences that it's the visual aspect that always sells. From looking at some accessible websites, they don't seem to me something I would be able to sell, or, better put they don't seem like something clients would pay for. I try to make all my websites as accessible as possible but it's hard to create image-heavy sites and still be able to deem your site accessible. What would you suggest (besides an alternative accessible site) that a web designer could do to create accessible content that will also sell to clients?
Mike: I definitely don't recommend producing an alternate theme. So often they just aren't maintained. Having alternate CSS options is useful.

About The Author

Mike Gifford is the founder of OpenConcept Consulting Inc, which he started in 1999. Since then, he has been particularly active in developing and extending open source content management systems to allow people to get closer to their content. Before starting OpenConcept, Mike had worked for a number of national NGOs including Oxfam Canada and Friends of the Earth.