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Before starting any new project, there are few settings that you want to review and set. They're going to be specific to that site. None of those settings are as potentially important as Accessibility. In simple terms, Accessibility refers to how your site's content is accessed by all users. It's easy to get in the mindset of designing specifically for browsers, but the truth of the matter is that browsers are only one of the client types potentially accessing your site's content. Mobile devices, tablets, and screen readers are just a few of the devices that can access your content.
While it's obviously a good idea to provide your content to everyone who tries to access it, in some cases, it's also the law. Section 508 of the Americans with Disabilities Act states that any Web site paid for with federal funds needs to meet standard accessibility guidelines. Now the good news is that making your content accessible isn't difficult. It just requires your attention throughout the design process. To make it even easier for you, Dreamweaver has many built-in preferences that assist you in making your documents accessible.
In this movie, we're going to take a quick look at setting your Accessibility Preferences in Dreamweaver to automate many of the accessibility-related tasks for your site. So we're going to go back to our Preferences. So I'm just going to go up to Edit and choose Preferences. On the Mac, you go to Dreamweaver and choose Preferences. I want to click on the Accessibility Category, right up here towards the top. You can see, it's not many choices. As a matter of fact, we basically just have check boxes that tell Dreamweaver, "Yes. Go ahead and show me the Accessibility attributes when I'm inserting any "type of a Form object, Frame, any type of a Media object, such as video, or any Images on the page." So I'm going to go ahead and just leave the default settings, which are actually all those guys checked.
I'm going to click OK. I'm just going to scroll down a little bit further down the page and click right after our last paragraph. I'm going to go ahead and insert an image on the page. There are a lot of different ways to do that, but one of the easiest is just to come up to our Common objects in the Insert panel. I'm going to choose Insert > Image. Then I'm going to browse to my _images directory. So let's say we want to place an image on the page. Let's say this beach_yoga.jpg. So I'm going to click OK, but notice before I see the image on the page, Dreamweaver is going to bring up the Accessibility Attributes for that image.
One of the things it would like to know is what Alternate Text would I like for that image. So I could type in something such as beach yoga. That's going to help me meet Accessibility requirements for that image. Now if those are turned off, I'm going to go ahead and delete the image. Go back to my Preferences, and turn that off. Now again, if I want to insert that image on the page, and this time when I click OK, I get no dialog box, or no warning whatsoever. Now it's incredibly important that all of your Images have what's called Alternative, or Alt Text.
So we want to Alt tag all of our images, so that we're meeting those Accessibility requirements. Alt text is the text that the Screen Reader will use or the browsers will show us Alternate Text, if images aren't read by that particular user client. So they're really important for us to do, but you might say to yourself, "Well, "I don't really need that prompt. I'll go back and do it." Trust me. This is the voice of experience talking here. You don't always go back and do that. So yes, I could simply click on the image, go to my Properties, and type in Beach Yoga, but likely, you're not going to be doing that for every image you place on the page.
So there is no good reason to ever turn those Preferences off. So again, you might just want to double check that, make sure that all of your Accessibility Preferences are turned on. Now anytime you insert an object on the page, the Dreamweaver can assist you with, it's going to do that based on those Preferences. Now for the most part, the Accessibility Preferences are the type of preferences you just set and forget. You let Dreamweaver prompt you for any necessary Accessibility information. I can't think of a compelling reason ever to turn them off, unless you just don't like being prompted for certain information.
Now I'll also want to stress, very clearly, that while these settings will save you tons of time and potential errors, they do not guarantee that your site will meet Accessibility requirements. You should look at these settings more of as a way to save some time. The responsibility to create accessible sites is still your own. There are Accessibility requirements that are not met by these Preferences. I recommend visiting the government's Web site on Section 508 www.section508.gov to learn more about Accessibility, and how to ensure your site meets those requirements.
I would also like to mention that I will continue to focus on Accessibility throughout this title. As we discuss Images, Forms, Tables, and other Page elements, we will discuss their Accessibility requirements and any assistance Dreamweaver can give you in ensuring the elements are accessible.
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