Can there be Accesibility 2.0?

We all have our favorite Web 2.0 apps (even cynical old me), but it cannot be denied that any new Internet technology must inevitably be followed by accessibility issues. That’s just part of the new Internet cycle.
Fortunately, this is often followed by accessibility tools and recommendations.

Some Web 2.0 Pitfalls

  1. Where’s the ALT Tag? – If you upload an image via a Web form and you don’t have a chance to give it a title or description…you’ve probably uploaded an image with no ALT tag.
  2. Where’s the Podcast transcript? – Just because it has a cool name, doesn’t mean it’s not an audio file which needs to be accessible to hearing impaired audiences.
  3. What did AJAX do the screen? – When an AJAX app like Basecamp puts a new message on the screen, your eyes will catch it. The screen reader, on the other hand, might miss it…
  4. How good is that code? – Some WSYWIG editors generate better structured code than others. You want to avoid ad hoc styles and breaks and go for headers and paragraph breaks. And if you’re persnickety like me, you probably want access to the RAW code so you can fix it!
  5. Same Link Text – Some apps include multiple links with the same text (e.g. multiple “Read More” links which is not recommended). It’s preferable for links to have unique text if possible…but it is more difficult to implement in the backend.
  6. Web 2.0 = scripts! – Scripted pages can be made accessible, but you do have to work at it

Some Good Examples

Some Web 2.0 developers HAVE thought about this already. For instance:

  • The Web editor for Wikipedia does convert its Wiki syntax to well-structured XHTML.
  • Both Movable Type and Drupal uses CSS to make Headers appear to be hot-looking page titles and sidebar widgets.
  • Movable Type will also put in an ALT Tag for any uploaded image…but it will match the title of the image unless the saavy blog writer changes it. Drupal will also allow to edit in ALT tags…but have to be on the saavy side for this one also.

At the same time, there are new standards being developed…such as WAI-ARIA.
The gotcha for these is that you may implement them, but an old screen reader might still miss them…

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