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Accessibility on the web has been an issue for over a decade, and it remains a crucial--but often overlooked--element of web design. Instructor Zoe Gillenwater explains the concept of accessibility as it applies to the web, and describes how it affects the audience. She also covers how to set up accessibility testing, and how to apply accessibility principles to new and existing sites using standards-compliant markup and CSS. Exercise files accompany the tutorials.
>> There are some general principles of accessibility that will be themes throughout this title. I wanted to go over them now so you can keep them in mind when you're developing any of the accessibility techniques that we'll later cover so that you can have a greater understanding of why we're choosing certain techniques and how they can help. So these principles that we're going to talk about are consistency, semantic markup and separation of content, presentation and behavior. So let's first talk about consistency. Consistency is actually mentioned in some of the guidelines of WCAG 1.0 and 2.0 as being important for accessibility.
It's related to the fact that patterns help everyone understand information. If you're a sighted person, patterns that we create through consistency, either visually through our text, help everyone understand information. So it's important to be consistent in the techniques that you apply to your web pages. With web accessibility, there's not always a right or a best answer. So you'll often have to use your judgment to pick one. When you do that, make sure that you stick with it throughout your site. Even when sites have problems with accessibility, if those problems are consistent throughout the site, users can often recognize those patterns and figure out a way around them to make do in using the site.
Another important theme of accessibility is that of semantic markup. Many of the techniques that we'll talk about are very dependent on markup because the information in the markup is what is accessed by assistive technology and provided to its users. Semantic markup is the method of writing XHTML or HTML markup where your mark what each piece of content is, not what it should look like. So, for example, you may have headings on your page, and you can mark them up with the HTML tags H1 through H6.
Quotations should be marked up with block quote and so forth. Presentational tags, such as center, font or bold have been deprecated or removed from current web standards because they do not comply with the idea of semantic markup. Again, though, this is an area where there's not always a right answer as to which tag is perfect for which piece of content. So use your judgment and be consistent. Semantic markup is also related to the idea of separating content, presentation and behavior.
In the next chapter, we'll set up an accessibility testing environment so that we can evaluate our web pages' accessibility as we build them.
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