Portable Document Format (PDF) is a common file format that allows the layout of a document to look the same across different platforms and applications. This article explains how to view and create PDFs with accessibility in mind.
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Making Your Organization's Website More Accessible and Usable
Website accessibility is less complex than many people believe. It primarily involves adherence to a small number of basic rules for including certain codes or content in ways that can be interpreted effectively by people who are not using the standard monitor, keyboard, or mouse to access and interact with websites.
Guidelines and Standards
Most national and international accessibility guidelines are based on at least one of two sources:
- The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). WCAG 1.0 was published in 1999; WCAG 2.0, which is a major revision, was published in 2008. Among other changes, WCAG 2.0 strives to remain relevant as new Internet technologies are developed. WCAG is based on best practices, and is not formally affiliated with any legislation. WCAG has three levels of compliance: A (minimal compliance), AA (enhanced compliance), and AAA (advanced compliance). This document covers Level A and Level AA compliance.
- Section 508 Standards, which were published in 2000 and are enforceable for Federal agencies under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Subpart B, 1194.22 covers Internet and intranet pages. Section 508 is slated for revision in the near future; when the revised standards are published, they will dovetail far more closely with WCAG 2.0. Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which addresses accessibility of places of public accommodation, has recently been amended to cover website accessibility. When Title III standards are published, they will likely be based on WCAG 2.0 and/or Section 508.
What Website Accessibility Means
Website guidelines and standards primarily address two issues:
- Coding. Many people with disabilities use assistive technologies to access the Internet. Assistive technologies provide an alternative to the monitor (e.g., programs that read information aloud) or to the keyboard and/or mouse (e.g., speech recognition software). These programs are often dependent on the presence of certain HTML tags, attributes, or other pieces of coding to work properly.
- Interface. The “look and feel” of websites needs to be designed so that they are accessible to people with disabilities, whether or not they use assistive technologies. These guidelines and standards overlap significantly with mainstream usability guidelines. WCAG Level A guidelines primarily cover coding issues; Level AA guidelines cover both coding and interface.
This article discusses Section 508, Level A, and Level AA guidelines, and provides suggestions on how to comply with each of these.
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It can be great when the people you work with know exactly what they want. It can also be a nightmare! People responsible for accessibility report that they are often contacted by someone insisting on a particular solution to an accessibility problem, even if they have only seen it at a conference, heard about it from a peer, or read about it in a newspaper.