/CSS/ - a guide for the unglued
June 13, 2002 11:29 PM   Subscribe

/CSS/ - a guide for the unglued
With site design hitting the front page of the BBC, WaSP's Dreamweaver MX input, Daypop heaving with section 508 references, and articles like this Eric Meyer interview, is the web about to become a considerably more accessible place?
posted by southisup (4 comments total)
I think that more and more big-name sites will become accessible either because of public pressure or because they are forced to by having some relationship with the federal government. Certainly as awareness of the issue increases, there will be more motivation for sites like MSNBC and Salon to become completely accessible (maybe they already are...), and section 508 is probably a reasonable guideline for doing so.

I work at a state university, so we're undergoing what amounts to the very time-consuming (and therefore expensive) of updating all 200,000 pages or so on our official sites to meet federal and state accessibility guidelines.

From one point of view, it's easy: Just make sure all images have alt attributes set and all form elements have matching <label> tags and that all data tables use <th> tags with the appropriate scope attribute. But when you're faced with an entire website that's been growing organically over the past 8 years, it can be a huge and tedious task. And there are always unfortunately those people who have a negative attitude towards such changes.

Of course, when starting a new site, it's pretty easy to keep accessibility in mind from the start. I think that converting existing sites over to accessibility guidelines is going to push a lot more medium-to-large sites over to content management systems. And luckily, it's going to force these CMS vendors to include these features. Software vendors will also have to take pains for accessibility if they plan on being used in governmental agencies for anything. We can't roll out any new software unless it's well accessible or we can provide an accessible alternative that provides the same functionality.

There's controversy, too, of course. When considering whether certain functionality is accessible, are the web and desktop environments equivalent or are they considered separately? That's something that's not very clear yet. The question being, can you provide an accessible desktop application that replaces an inaccessible web app or vice versa?
posted by daveadams at 4:14 AM on June 14, 2002

Is the web about to become more accessible? I hope so. But accessibility is only one of the many benefits of a CSS-driven web.

That BBC article seems an odd fit for this topic, though - and a little staggering for a news story in mid-2002. Why no mention of the field of information architecture? I know it's unfamiliar stuff to the general public, but you wouldn't expect a story on poorly-designed buildings to include a quote from a builder saying, "People have a certain idea of where the doors and stairs go. You have to position them in a way that is consistent with how they think about how those things. Maybe we need someone to work on that stuff..."
posted by rory at 4:19 AM on June 14, 2002

Nice topic...and that CSS guide is gonna come in very handy for me, since I get unglued every time I try to approach it!
posted by rushmc at 9:26 AM on June 14, 2002

the /css/ guide could use some usability
posted by dangerman at 10:48 AM on June 17, 2002

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