We will cover the following questions:

  • What is accessibility?
  • Why be accessible?
  • How do we become accessible?

What is accessibility?

For those unfamiliar with accessibility issues pertaining to Web page design, consider that many users may be operating in contexts very different from your own:

  • They may not be able to see, hear, move, or may not be able to process some types of information easily or at all.
  • They may have difficulty reading or comprehending text.
  • They may not have or be able to use a keyboard or mouse.
  • They may have a text-only screen, a small screen, or a slow Internet connection.
  • They may not speak or understand fluently the language in which the document is written.
  • They may be in a situation where their eyes, ears, or hands are busy or interfered with (e.g., driving to work, working in a loud environment, etc.).
  • They may have an early version of a browser, a different browser entirely, a voice browser, or a different operating system.

Content developers must consider these different situations during page design. While there are several situations to consider, each accessible design choice generally benefits several disability groups at once and the Web community as a whole. For example, by using style sheets to control font styles and eliminating the FONT element, HTML authors will have more control over their pages, make those pages more accessible to people with low vision, and by sharing the style sheets, will often shorten page download times for all users. (W3C 1999)

Why be accessible?

  1. Because it's right
    • Equity of access
    • It helps all your users
  2. Because you can
    • It's easy to do
  3. Because you must
    • disability discrimination act
    • SOCOG case
    • lack of "unjustifiable hardship"

How do we become accessible?

1. Standards

  • CSS
  • WAI

2. Cross platform, liquid design

  • Zeldman/ALA
  • WASP

3. Testing

  • Validation - W3C/Bobby
  • Across browsers
  • Using Lynx
  • Screen readers
    • JAWS
    • Window Eyes
    • Home Page Reader



The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)

W3C Validator

W3C Web Accessibility Initiative

WC3 Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0

Bobby (an accessibility validator)

WAVE web page accessibility check

Disability Discrimination Act

DDA Web Advisory Notes

Reader’s guide to Sydney Olympics accessibility complaint

The Olympic Failure by Tom Worthington

Nielsen/Norman Group reports on accessibility

Integrating Usability & Accessibility Guidelines with Macromedia Dreamweaver

The Web Standards Project

ALPHABET SOUP: A web designer's journey to standards and accessibility

A List Apart

Dive into Accessibility



  • Images & animations. Use the alt attribute to describe the function of each visual.
  • Image maps. Use the client-side map and text for hotspots.
  • 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. Use CSS for layout and style where possible.
  • Graphs & charts. Summarize or use the longdesc attribute.
  • Scripts, applets, & plug-ins. Provide alternative content in case active features are inaccessible or unsupported.
  • Frames. Use the noframes element and meaningful titles.
  • Tables. Make line-by-line reading sensible. Summarize.
  • Check your work. Validate. Use tools, checklist, and guidelines at
    (c) W3C (MIT, INRIA, Keio) 2001/01