Digit presents ten quick tests to check your Web site for accessibility from Webcredible.
The Disability Discrimination Act says that Web sites must be made accessible for disabled people. So how can you be sure that your Web site is doing all it can to allow accessibility for as many people as possible? There are a number of basic tests you can use to address the main issues.
Webcredible, a Web accessibility and usability consultancy, suggest a number of guidelines that provide a good checklist for good Web accessibility. Here are 10 quick tips.
1. Check informational images for alternative text Place the cursor over an informational image, for example, the main logo. Does a yellow box appear with a brief, accurate description of the image? For users whose browsers do not support images, this alternative text is what they will see (or hear) in place of the image.
2. Check decorative images for alternative text Place the cursor over a decorative image that does not have any function other than to look pretty. Does a yellow box appear with a description of the image? It's best if it doesn't. There's no reason for users whose browsers do not support images to know that this image is there, as it serves no purpose.
Be careful though, as this is not a foolproof test. If a yellow box does not appear, this could mean one of two things. The alternative text of the image could be assigned a null value, which means that it will be ignored by browsers that do not support images. This is the ideal scenario. However, it could be that the alternative text of the image is simply not set at all, which means users whose browsers do not support images will be alerted to its existence but will be unable to find out what purpose it carries - which is very frustrating!
3. 'Listen' to any video or audio content with the volume turned off If you turn your speakers off, you are clearly unable to listen to, or follow, any audio content. Make sure your Web site supplies written transcripts, so that deaf people can understand the message that your Web site is putting across.
4. Check that forms are accessible Usually there is prompt text next to each item in a form. For example, a contact form might have the prompt text Name, Email, and Comments, each one next to a box where your site users will enter the information. When you click on the prompt text, does a flashing cursor appear in the box next to that text? If not, your forms are inaccessible.
5. Check that text can be resized In Internet Explorer (used by over 90% of Internet users) go to View > Font size > Largest. Does the text on your Web site increase in size? If not, then your Web site is inaccessible to users with poor visibility.
6. Check your Web site in the Lynx browser The Lynx browser is a text-only browser and does not support many of the features that other browsers such as Internet Explorer supports. You can check how your site looks in this browser with the Lynx Viewer, available at http://www.delorie.com/web/lynxview.html. If your Web site makes sense and can be navigated through the Lynx browser, then it will be fulfilling many of the Web accessibility guidelines.
7. Check that you can access all areas of your Web site without the use of a mouse Can you navigate through your Web site using just tab, shift-tab and return? If not, then neither can keyboard- and voice-only users.
8. Make sure you include a site map Can you find a site map? If not, then neither can people who are lost on your Web site.
9. Ensure link text makes sense out of context Blind Internet users often browse Web sites by tabbing from one link to the next. Does all the link text on your Web site make sense out of context? "Click Here" and "more" are common examples of non-descriptive link text.
10. Check your Web pages with an automated program. Two programs available for free on the Internet are Bobby and Wave. They are unable to provide you with all the information that you need, as some checks must be done by humans, but they can tell you some of the areas where your site might be going wrong.