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Overcome challenges to meeting accessibility standards and your website will be usable to a much larger audience

Published 03/16-2012

Web Accessibility

Building a website to comply with Section 508 or WCAG accessibility standards can mean meeting a number of specific technical requirements.  To assist in building websites that meet these standards, GORGES has found a number of tools that ease the development process.

Total Validator Tool will validate the markup of a web page against Section 508 and WCAG standards.  Getting the markup to validate to these standards helps prepare the website for visitors using screen reader software. Total Validator Tool generates easy-to-follow reports which detail where the markup of a page does not meet the accessibility standards.  From this report, developers can easily see what changes are necessary.

However, once the website markup meets the appropriate standards, there are other aspects of the standards that are beyond what the Total Validator Tool is designed to detect.  These include considerations for visitors with color blindness and preparing any video used on the website for visitors who may be blind or deaf.

Vischeck is a service that will simulate colorblind vision.  Images or screenshots of a website can be uploaded and processed for free at the Vischeck website.  This can give a general sense of how a website may look to those with a form of color blindness.

To ensure a website is usable by those who are colorblind, checking the contrast between foreground and background colors is essential.  The accessibility standards indicate what contrast ratios are necessary.  The WebAIM Color Contrast Checker will provide a ratio based on provided colors while the service Check My Colours will analyze the colors used on an entire site.

Universal Subtitles is a service for adding captions (and translations) to embedded video.  This service is compatible with many popular video hosting services and video players.

JW Player is good option for embedded video that is self-hosted.  It can meet some of the stricter versions of the accessibility standards using the optional Captions plugin and Audio Description plugin.  This includes not only closed captions but closed audio descriptions.  A closed audio description is an additional audio track that may sometimes be needed to describe the video scene to visitors who are blind.

For an overview of making video accessible, a good document can be found at the JW Player website titled "Making Video Accessible."

Commonly used screen readers include JAWS and Window-Eyes.  For testing with a screen reader, an article on the Yahoo Developer Network suggests using a free and open source screen reader called NVDA.  The article "Easy Accessibility Testing with the NVDA Screen Reader" states:

"NVDA for Windows is one of several screen reader programs available on the market today. NVDA is free and open source. It is very strict in how it treats web pages and thus can serve as a perfect testing tool."

By utilizing these tools, many of the challenges of meeting accessibility standards can be more easily overcome, and your website will become usable by a larger audience.

Author

Brian Post Application Developer
Brian Post

Application Developer

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