How do we know if our sites are accessible? Even if we follow Standards and Guidelines for Markup and Accessibility websites may still be inaccessible to some users. Automated checks, following guidelines, and using specific applications have limitations.
Lynx is a great tool to evaluate the accessibility of content delivery on one level, but more tools and checks are needed. Some items used in web page development may interfere with accessing content or navigating a website or page, and may be missed by Lynx. Lynx may give a false impression a site is accessible but fails to deliver results for users where a page is loaded normally in a browser, viewed on a screen, and accessed by mouse, keyboard, pointing devices, or other items.
An article Text-Only is Not Accessible(2002) points out a few issues surrounding the use of Text-only as an alternative to delivering accessible web pages. Some of these same issues can or may show the limitations of relying on Lynx as a tool that will give the impression text-only works for all deliveries. It is important to realize that Graphics, other visual elements, usability, and interactivity with web page content are also important accessibility features for users.
There remains questions about which items of markup, script, and CSS are supported by various accessible technologies and devices. This includes support for title, abbreviations, acronyms, form items, accesskeys, and more. It would be nice if developers of these tools outlined and made available their support features in regards to items of Markup, CSS, scripting.
As designers and developers we need to expand our own definition or beliefs about web accessibility beyond visual disabilities and realize that there are people accessing web with motor difficulties and without a mouse. We may not wish to hide skip links, or other features of navigation or added descriptions to visual content. We need to test websites on various browsers with only a keyboard for these users, one hand, one finger, and or maybe trial with a pointing device. How do these users get more descriptive information on a web graphic of a chart, diagram, etc? Getting to a link inside page content, and after a long link menu may show us a need for providing a visible skip link for this group, and search features up top. We also need to realize that other users may have access diffulties in other areas: cognitive, reading, language, and hearing difficulties.
The Web Accessibility Initiative Outreach and Education Group offers a draft Evaluating Web Sites for Accessibility. This document gives tips and outlines various ways to review work for Web site accessibility. The Preliminary Review contains several manual checks that will help identify accessibility problems that may not appear by using automated tests, checks, or tools.
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