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#Web Accessibility

Presentation made for a monthly event called DevTricks organized by members of the Software Niagara community.

Talk was done January 12th 2015.

View the presentation at

Presentation covers:

  • What it means and why it matters.
  • Making websites compliant with guidelines and laws.
  • Techniques and tools for developers.

##Web Accessibility

Is about making apps and websites that are inclusive to all users regardless of web browsing experience or their physical or mental capabilities

##Computer Use Challenges

  • Reading Difficulties
  • Difficulty Hearing
  • Difficulty Seeing / Colour Blindness
  • Issues with Dexterity
  • Reduced Motor Skills
  • Declined Cognitive Abilities

##Assistive Technologies

Hardware and Software to aid people's computer use

  • Screen readers
    • JAWS (most popular)
    • Thunder
    • ORCA (linux)
    • Chrome (Chrome Extension)
  • Voice recognication programs
  • Braille displays
  • Screen magnifiers
  • Browser options/configurations
  • Browser extensions

##Why Accessibility Matters

  • So many of us with disabilities
  • Social Inclusion - "no gets left behind"
  • Equal access to information and equal opportunity
  • It's the Law! (depending on jurisdiction and company size)

Additional considerations:

  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Accessibility and usability go hand in hand
  • Entire world is moving to an accessible web, this decade!

Canadian Accessibility Standards

  • Approved Common Look and Feel (CLF) 1.0 standards in 2000 mirrored Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 1.0
  • 2011, CLF 2.0 was replaced with the Standard on Web Accessibility
    • Based on WCAG 2.0
    • Part of a group of official Web Standards for the Government of Canada Accessibility, Usability, Operability, Optimization for Mobile

##Ontario Accessibility Laws

Ontario has been early leader in accessibility

  • Enacted Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities (AODA)
  • Making sites compliant with WCAG 2.0 Level AA:
    • Government and non-profit, existing sites by 2012
    • Government and non-profit, all sites and content by 2016
    • Large organizations, new sites and content by 2014
    • All public websites and content by 2021

##Legal Enforcement?

Failure to comply to AODA could result in fines of:

  • $50,000 per day for directors and officers
  • up to $100,000 per day for corporations.

##Web Accessible Initiatives

  • AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act)
  • ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)
  • Section 508: eliminate barriers in information technology
  • PDF/UA: Universal Accessibility standards for documents
  • more from all over the world

##Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

WCAG 2.0 is an internationally accepted standard for web accessibility developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international team of experts

  • pronounced "wick-ag"
  • provides guidelines for organizations to follow to make their websites more accessible
  • each guideline has testable success criteria
  • classified into 3 levels of accessibility: A, AA and AAA
  • 12 guides organized into 4 principles

##Principles of Accessibility

  • Perceivable
  • Operable
  • Understandable
  • Robust


Information and user interface must be presented to users in ways they can perceive.

  • Text Alternatives

    • Provide alternatives for non-text content.
  • Time-based Media

    • Provide alternatives for time-based media (audio/video).
  • Adaptable

    • Create content that can be presented in different ways without losing information.
  • Distinguishable

    • Make it easier for users to see and hear content.


Users must be able to use the interface. It cannot require interaction that a user cannot perform.

  • Keyboard Accessible

    • Make all functionality available from a keyboard.
  • Enough Time

    • Provide users enough time to read and use content.
  • Seizures

    • Do not design content in a way that is known to cause seizures.
  • Navigable

    • Provide ways to help users navigate, find content, and determine where they are.


Users must be able to understand the information as well as how to use the interface

  • Readable

    • Make text content readable and understandable.
  • Predictable

    • Make Web pages appear and operate in predictable ways.
  • Input Assistance

    • Help users avoid and correct mistakes.


Content must be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents

  • Compatible
    • Maximize compatibility with current and future user agents, including assistive technologies.

##Making Websites Accessible

  • Provide alternate text and formats

  • Use headings correctly

  • Use distinct and meaningful titles

  • Simply navigation and consider keyboard only users, use skip navigation links

  • Make all functionality available via keyboard, or skippable

  • Make all form inputs have an associated label

  • Have visible indication of focus

  • Include captions audio/video clips

  • Use strong contrast between text and background

  • Avoid the use of colour indicators

  • Avoid time limits when asking users to provide a response or information

  • Avoid blinking images auto play content

  • Avoid CAPTCHAs

  • Provide data tables for graphs

##Accessibility Techniques

  • Techniques for WCAG 2.0 provided by W3C
  • Web Accessibility Initiative – Accessible Rich Internet Application (WAI-ARIA or just ARIA)
    • a set of attributes to help enhance the semantics of a web site or web application to help assistive technologies
    • ARIA Landmarks (role="navigation") gives us information about the purpose of an element
    • ARIA attributes (aria-*) gives information about the state of an element
    • Techniques for WAI-ARIA

Provide alternative text to describe images:

<img src="logo.png" alt="Ekomodi Enterprises: Vehicles your way." >

Provide alternative text to describe photos:

<img src="lottery_winners.gif" alt="Husband and wife jumping for joy holding a winning lottery ticket" >

For purely decorative images use empty alt:

<img src="snowflake.png" alt="" >

Highlight links when in focus:

a:focus { 
    border: 1px solid #ffa500; 

Adding skip to links:

<div class="skip">
    <a href="#navigation">Skip to navigation</a> |
    <a href="#main-content">Skip to main content</a>

<nav id="navigation">

<a name="main-content"></a>
<p>Main content</p>

Using ARIA Landmark Roles:

<header role="banner">
  <h1>Title of your document</h1>
  <nav role="navigation">
        <li><a href="#">Link 1</a></li>

<main role="main">
  <h2>Main Content</h2>
  <p>Juicy content</p>

<aside role="complementary">
  <p>Complementary content</p>

<footer role="contentinfo">
  <p>Information about the document</p>

##Testing Web Accessibility

When testing your websites:

  • Try navigating without a mouse
  • Test with CSS and JavaScript disabled
  • Use assistive technologies or software that mimics them:
    • Browser extensions/plugins
    • Screen readers emulators, Chrome Vox
  • Use online tools like validators or analyzers:
    • AChecker
    • WAVE (Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool
    • SortSite - Accessibility Checker and Validator

##Examples of Accessible Sites

Good sites:


Talk giving at Software Niagara DevTricks on Web Accessibility




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