The resources gathered in this section of the WAC web site aim primarily at web developers and folks in charge of organizing, managing, and publishing web resources. The goal is to provide descriptions of technologies and links to online tools and web sites that developers and managers, staff, students, and outside consultants can use to help understand some of the issues involved in authoring and to assist in implementing accessible web sites.
On this page, we also provide some tips on hiring a web developer—things to be aware of and questions to ask to ensure the person or firm you hire has the skills and experience necessary to produce a web site that satisfies the needs of your department or organization, while satisfying the requirement of accessibility to people with disabilities.
Guide to the WAC Resource Pages
- Books, Sites, and Guidelines on Accessible Web Design
Annotated list of books, web sites, and online guides and guidelines centering on the understanding, analysis, and implementation of usable and accessible web design.
- Tools to Help Developers Check Accessibility
Overview of approaches for checking web page accessibility and reviews of a variety of stand-alone and online accessibility checkers. Annotated list of CSS and HTML validators and online, free, and effective tools to assist in the analysis and authoring of accessible web pages.
- Access Technologies for Web Pages
Discussion of major screen readers, screen magnifiers, and text-to-speech programs used at OSU, with commentaries about screen reader compatibility with browsers and DHTML. Covers Mac and PC. We hope to add coverage of Linux in the future. One goal of the page is to familiarize developers with assistive technologies in order to facilitate their use in testing of web resources during development.
- OSU Resources
Annotated list of essential resources for OSU web developers.
Accessible/Inaccessible Demonstration Web Sites
Most experienced developers have encountered questions of accessibility in at least some of their web projects. However, it may not be easy to convince the client that accessibility ought to factor in the design process. The developer might argue that accessible, flexible, standards-based design factors in SEO and thus relates directly to search engine rankings and business traffic. On this a place to start is Andy Hagan's "High Accessibility Is Effective Search Engine Optimization". But often a demonstration can be key in driving home the point.
Consider using a screen reader or other AT to review these demonstration web sites:
Surfing the Web with AT: Videos
Many developers have never watched experienced users of access technologies surf the web. Below we list a number of web pages that contain links to videos showing experienced users navigating web pages using access technologies.
- Screen reader navigating tables: This page on the W3C wiki discussing emerging standards contains links to a series of videos produced by Joshue O'Connor of the Center for Inclusive Technology (CFIT), an initiative of the National Council of the Blind of Ireland. The videos show screen reader power use reading tables and using the
longdesc attribute. The current draft of HTML 5 (as of January 2008, see HTML 5 differences for HTML 4) removes many attributes that are key for screen reader accessibility of tables and images. The CFIT videos were produced to provide evidence of the benefit of these threatened parts of HTML.
- Various methods of computer interaction: These videos from AssistiveWare show people with a large range of disabilities—visual, cognitive, and motor—interacting with computers.
- Working Together: People with Disabilities and Computer Technology: The "Working Together" series of videos from the University of Washington's DO-IT program shows user with various disabilities working with computers.
Tips on Hiring a Web Developer
Whether you are investing in a professional developer or are taking advantage of the free or low-cost services of a kind acquaintance or hungry undergraduate student, be sure the end result meets the OSU Minimum Web Accessibility Standards (MWAS). Careful planning and review before and during implementation are far less time consuming and much cheaper than retrofitting for accessibility after the site is completed.
Clarify Expectations in Your Contract
To help ensure your site meets OSU MWAS, we suggest including a statement like the one below in your contract for web design services:
"All OSU web pages and web-based services must conform to the university's Web Accessibility Policy and associated standards which can be found at: http://ada.osu.edu/resources/WebPolicies.htm"
You might also consider requiring output from an accessibility validator or review or consultation with the WAC as part of the work required for the completed site.
Specify Redress for Contract Violations
The WAC suggests that you consider specifying the expected redress if the site fails to meet standards. Redress might include:
- a partial refund
- fixing the site, free of charge, until it meets accessibility standards
- working with the WAC to make the site accessible
How to Choose a Web Developer
However you word your contract, with explicit requirements and redress or a general statement about compliance, the goal is to end up with an aesthetically pleasing design and ensure your new site will be highly usable and accessible to all.
Hire a design firm or professional developer who:
- can demonstrate knowledge of accessibility issues and standards
- is conscientious about following web standards in their coding
- can demonstrate knowledge of principles of usability in their previous designs
Some questions to ask the developer are:
- What web standards do you validate your code against and what other measures do you take to ensure compliance? Does the developer know about US Section 508 and WCAG guidelines? Has she built other sites in compliance with either of these standards? What techniques does she use to validate her code and check accessibility compliance (W3C validators, Bobby, WAVE, various manual checks)? Does she have access to assistive technology (screen readers, et cetera) to review the site?
- What technologies will be used to code and maintain the web site? If the developer wants to use Flash (and other multimedia), does she know its accessibility limitations? How will she write the code (by hand or using a solid coding tool such as Dreamweaver or, alternatively, using WYSIWYG in FrontPage or Dreamweaver)? How easy will it be for you (the customer) to update or make changes to the site after it is completed? What development languages does she know? If the web site will have a database or other back-end technology, what factors determine her choices?