The Accessible Web.

Team Makrobicz Web Consultancy Services

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Foreword.

The following article is a guide to accessing this web site, the case for fully accessible corporate websites including access enhancements for those with special needs.

Navigating the pages.

The pages may be accessed via clicking hyperlinks or via keyboard shortcuts. Depending on the browser software, these shortcuts may require holding down the alt key, or similar control, while selecting the character and then pressing enter to navigate to the desired area. The shortcuts are defined below with the page name followed by the character key:

 

Home = i.
Online marketing = m.
Design = d.
Development (Web) = w.
Contact Us = c.
Legal = l.
Privacy = p.
Copyright = y.
Resources = r.
Accessibility = x.

The case for accessible pages

There are numerous reasons why the time is right to switch to fully accessible design. The following article outlines the more prominent reasons.

Reaching the target audience.

The target audience for any business website may use very different browsing devices. These devices may be older web browsers with black and white monitors through the wider audience of PC based desktop browsers with 16bit colour monitors to state of the art PDA's with small black and white screens. No matter what the target audience uses to view web pages, the winning websites are the ones that can be accessed correctly.

Visitors with special needs may require audio browsers or Braille readers to render web pages in alternative mediums. A correctly designed website will facilitate good usability on any platform.

Search Engine Ranking.

A correctly designed, fully accessible website will not fill the page with layout and presentation effects or excessive graphics. Instead the search engines are free to read the text content and presentation is served separately, only to browsers that support the graphical enhancements. An added effect is that most Search Engines award higher ranking attributes to websites with a high text to HTML ratio and frequently a high text to image ratio.

Technological Re-tasking.

As browsing hardware and software continues to improve and change, accessible websites with presentation separated from content can inevitably be adapted to suit, without major rebuilding or alienating the advances. 

Bandwidth reduction.

Viewers with low bandwidth connections are very common due to geographical circumstances or choice of browsing device. These users form a large percentage of many target audiences and find graphically dependent pages restrictive and frequently unusable.

Efficiency.

Using a presentation document that downloads to a graphical browser once and then serving plain pages to be rendered with the presentational content will reduce server resource drain and web site maintenance costs.  

Social Responsilibility.

Providing a highly usable website for viewers with special needs can generate an element of goodwill. As the global population increasingly ages, the demand for special needs access increases proportionately.

Legality.

Most governments have recommendations for web accessibility considerations. Many have laws. It is the duty of the website owner to ensure these laws for discrimination and equal opportunities are upheld. These laws are based around the guidelines as defined in the web accessibility initiative.

You can check your current website or that of your designers for section 508 compatibility (US) or web content accessibility guidelines compatibility at the Center for Applied Special technology.

 

Glossary of terms


Accessibility: 

The issue of constructing web pages in a structured format, whereby the content is rendered usable regardless of the browsing device.  

Target Audience:

The viewers for which the published pages are actually intended.

Search Engines:

Websites that specialise in crawling the world wide web for web pages and indexing them. A search facility is then incorporated to search the websites within the index. Google is an example of a good search engine.

Bandwidth:

Not to be confused with Data Transfer, is the amount of data that can travel from the server to a network at one time. Data transfer, however is the actual amount of data that has moved from one place to the other. A good analogy is a water pipe and a bucket. A wider pipe will allow more water to pass at once (bandwidth) and the bucket collects that transferred water (data) at the end of the pipe.

 

 
 
 
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