The accessible Internet

Part of my work can sometimes involve building websites.

For my current employer there is a big push for all sites to meet the accessibility guidelines set out in WCAG 2.0. This is going to become standard across all government sites in the country. It is a noble idea: ensuring that as much web based content as possible will be available to everyone, including those people who are deaf or blind.

But… there is a hell of a lot that needs to be done to codify this into something that encourages faster and more wholesale adoption. Flash seems to be the whipping boy of the moment but in my opinion this is pointless and unfair. When the web was new and interactive content was rare, Shockwave and Flash came to being and changed the web.

Maybe it doesn’t fit the needs of the “new web” but it helped us get there and shouldn’t be forgotten.

HTML5 is now the poster child and though it does have features which will help content to be better structured and support more types, it’s still under development and certainly isn’t a silver bullet. If writing .Net apps taught me anything it was that no matter how good the languages and frameworks are, they still won’t stop people from writing rubbish code.

In my opinion, a lot could be done and more simply if a standard that already exists such as XHTML was extended further to include default attributes and layers of structure oriented towards accessibility. Its already part of the way it works with its more rigid enforcement of standards. But I suppose that’s also the goal of HTML5 so we’ll get there either way.

Categories: Development, Technology

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