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Web accessibility definitions

Assistive technology

Assistive technologies include the following:

  • screen magnifiers, and other visual reading assistants, which are used by people with visual, perceptual and physical print disabilities to change text font, size, spacing, colour, synchronization with speech, etc. in order to improve the visual readability of rendered text and images;
  • screen readers, which are used by people who are blind to read textual information through synthesized speech or braille;
  • text-to-speech software, which is used by some people with cognitive, language, and learning disabilities to convert text into synthetic speech;
  • speech recognition software, which may be used by people who have some physical disabilities;
  • alternative keyboards, which are used by people with certain physical disabilities to simulate the keyboard (including alternate keyboards that use head pointers, single switches, sip/puff and other special input devices.);
  • alternative pointing devices, which are used by people with certain physical disabilities to simulate mouse pointing and button activations.
When a webpage item that can be operated, such as a link, receives 'focus' it is highlighted in some way, such as the cursor turning into a hand if the mouse is used, or a border placed around the link if it is tabbed to using the keyboard
Input device
Any device that provides input to a computer, including a mouse, keyboard, tablet, or joystick
Screen reader
A software package that reads a webpage to a person through synthesized speech or presents it in a refreshable braille display
Semantic function
Webpages should be structured using semantic elements, that is elements used according to their meaning, not how they appear visually
Structure in documents and webpages
Structure refers to semantic elements that help organise the content in a way that can be interpreted by assistive technology. Examples of this include headings, lists, table of contents, and table headers. Structure is added with an editor that is capable of adding the right code in the background
Text alternative
A text alternative is a description that achieves the same outcome for users with different abilities. For example , when presenting a video on a webpage, captions with text descriptions of the video information, including descriptions of the actions, body language, graphics, and scene changes make presentations accessible to people who are deaf-blind and to those who cannot play movies or animations. It also makes the information available to search engines. A text description of time-based visual and auditory information needs to be correctly sequenced to provide a means for achieving the outcomes of any time-based interaction

Hot topics to consider

Top  Tools for whole of page accessibility

Note: its worth checking some of the findings reported as errors by these tools. Fore example, some may report missing labels for form input elements, and not all of them need labels, such as input elements that are of type image, the alt tag is sufficient. There is no foolproof tool, always use at least two.

  1. Wave Online checker and Firefox Toolbar
  2. Web Accessibility Toolbar Internet Explorer Toolbar
  3. HTML CodeSniffer Bookmarklet
  4. Tota11y Bookmarklet
  5. Total Validator Evaluator for Windows, Mac, Linux, toolbar for Firefox and Seamonkey

Top tools for testing specific attributes