HTML EDITORS: FOUR KEY CAPABILITIES TO ADDRESS WEB ACCESSIBILITY ISSUES
HTML EDITORS AND WEB ACCESSIBILITY Certain capabilities within HTML editors can go a long way in tackling web accessibility issues. Specifically, your editor should have four essential capabilities:
Accessibility checking as you type Wizard to create accessible tables Inspecting content and providing accessibility reports Providing compatibility with assistive technologies But before delving into these capabilities in greater detail, we’ll first provide some background information on web accessibility and standards.
HTML EDITORS AND WEB ACCESSIBILITY Accessibility – The Force Behind Most Web Standards •When you comply with web accessibility standards, first and foremost, your web pages can be accessed by persons with disabilities, while also gaining greater visibility in searches. •The search engine is able to access and index your documents more easily and accurately. •The same goes for robots that collect information from your website on behalf of search engines. •Compliance to standards offers additional benefits as well. •For example, your web pages can be converted to other formats, including databases and Word documents. •Standards help create versatility.
HTML EDITORS AND WEB ACCESSIBILITY Accessibility – The Force Behind Most Web Standards •Web documents can be accessed through other software and hardware platforms. •Fortunately, a good HTML editor can provide the necessary capabilities to help you comply with the web’s accessibility standards. •With these capabilities already built-in to the application, you won’t have to worry about meeting compliance standards – the editor will do the heavy lifting for you.
HTML EDITORS AND WEB ACCESSIBILITY Capability #1: Accessibility Checking As You Type •You and your authors want to know if your content is compliant before it’s published. •Therefore, an important capability to have is “accessibility checking as you type.” •This feature lets you immediately spot things like images missing alternative text, inaccessible tables and other accessibility issues. •The “accessibility checking as you type” function works as simply as a word processing spell checker. It’s a must-have feature for HTML editing.
HTML EDITORS AND WEB ACCESSIBILITY Capability #2: Creating Accessible Tables •It’s not easy to create accessible tables. So, make sure you get all the help you can get from your HTML editor. •The “accessibility checking as you type” feature mentioned above will identify any issues. But you should have additional capabilities available as well. •Your editor should provide other capabilities to create accessible tables such as a “convert to percentage widths” feature. •With one click, your HTML editor should be able to create a relative-sized table. •Also, a “table accessibility inspector” and “table accessibility wizard” can help users apply the right header and data cell relationships by pointing and clicking, not coding HTML.
HTML EDITORS AND WEB ACCESSIBILITY Capability #3: Inspecting Content and Providing Accessibility Reports •Your HTML editor needs to thoroughly inspect your content against the two established sets of industry guidelines: −the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) −Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998 (Section 508) Then, it must deliver accessibility reports highlighting any errors. •Developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the WCAG formal guidelines identify how to create accessible web content. WCAG 2.0 includes 12 guidelines and 65 checkpoints. •The checkpoints are prioritized from one to three in terms of access barriers. •A priority one checkpoint indicates barriers make access impossible for one or more user groups; priority two denotes access is difficult and priority three signifies access is somewhat difficult.
HTML EDITORS AND WEB ACCESSIBILITY Capability #3: Inspecting Content and Providing Accessibility Reports •For each guideline, testable success criteria are provided. •In order to meet the needs of different groups and different situations, three levels of conformance to WCAG 2.0 guidelines are defined: A (lowest), AA, and AAA (highest). •An outcome of legislation, the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, also called the Access Board, published the Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards (Section 508) in December 2000. •The section on “web-based intranet and internet information and applications" provides sixteen standards which define the minimum level of accessibility for federal government websites. •These standards strongly resemble the WCAG checkpoints, and continue to be reviewed for need for enhancement.
HTML EDITORS AND WEB ACCESSIBILITY Capability #4: Providing Compatibility with Assistive Technologies •You also want your HTML editor’s interface to be accessibility compliant with assistive technologies. •What does this mean? •Not only do people with disabilities need to be able to access the web, but your web pages as well. •Everyone accessing your site must understand it, even if they use a non-typical browser. •For example, a person with a vision disability would be using a voice browser that reads web pages out loud, like the JAWS from Freedom Scientific, or a Braille browser that translates text to Braille. •Other unusual devices might include hand-held browsers and teletext displays.
HTML EDITORS AND WEB ACCESSIBILITY
Making sure your content management tools address web accessibility standards will help ensure traditional browsers, as well as non-traditional browsers and devices, can access your web pages.
If you don’t follow standards, you’ll limit access to your target audience and adversely affect your business.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Tom Smith is VP Worldwide Sales and Marketing for Ephox Corporation, a fast-growing software company focused on delivering content performance solutions for developers, marketers, authors and web production teams. Learn more about our HTML editor capabilities by visiting http://ephox.com/.