Here are some tips for effectively understanding and implementing accessibility strategies.
1. Experience a Screen Reader, a Film with no Audio and so forth
There is no wake up call like viewing a Web page you have developed on a screen reader to understand the issues that visually impaired users might face. This is also true for using the Internet with a grayscale monitor, a small screen or mobile device, no audio, slow bandwidth connection, new mouse device or other less than ideal conditions.
2. Use a Multi-Pronged Testing Strategy
A testing strategy should include a standards verification report, checking to see how the site appears with images and CSS disabled, a color contrast check and an audit of content.
In addition any plugins, applications and web apps should be checked to ensure that they work with a screen reader (including login and navigation). Even if the plugin itself cannot be used, it may be possible to present the content or function within an alternate tool/format.
3. Remember the Context
There are very few accessibility requirements which can be blindly applied
without considering the context of the Web page. For a screen reader audience in particular, a balance between too little information and too much redundancy should be maintained.
4. Make Sure Accessibility Tags or Tools are Supported
Some of the newer accessibility tags and standards have been proposed, but
do not have full support yet in screen readers or browsers. Before spending great time and effort implementing new tags, make sure that modern browsers and screen readers such as Jaws have implemented them recently. Otherwise, it may be more efficient to use some other accessibility strategy.
For instance screen readers may not support all the tags for complex tables.
In that case, a series of simple tables may be more accessible to more users.
5. Think About Accessibility Early
The best time to consider accessibility is at the beginning. If you add an image to document, do you add an ALT tag at the same time? If you shoot a video, do you have a way to caption it? If you build a drag and drop interface, can you build in a keyboard alternative? Answering these questions now will save lots of hours retrofitting content.
6. Be Patient with Accessibility Experts
Accessibility is, unfortunately, a complex issue which does not always lend
itself to simple answers. You may hear conflicting advice on how to best implement accessibility. Understanding the audience issues and your goals will hopefully provide you with sensible alternatives.
7. Be Patient with Users
Even after implementing all the recommended tags and strategies, some users
may still encounter problems you were not aware of, either because of unique conditions or outdated browsers or equipment. These users still need
8. Keep up with Accessibility Developments
Screen readers and browsers are continuously evolving. Old problems may be
solved and new ones created. Evolving technologies will create new accessibility issues.
BUT, if you incorporate accessibility now, you will be better prepared for new developments in the future and less likely to need to make major changes.
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