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Don't forget the 'C' in WCAG

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All too often, the focus of web accessibility projects and activities is technical (design and development). However, even in an environment controlled by a content management system, web writers can ...

All too often, the focus of web accessibility projects and activities is technical (design and development). However, even in an environment controlled by a content management system, web writers can have an impact on the accessibility of your content - affecting 19 of the 59 success criteria in WCAG 2.0.

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  • Most content authors would struggle to use the WCAG guidelines documents
  • This page goes too far in the other direction. In being informal, it uses too many colloquialisms that may not be understood by those whose first language is not English. Examples include: “ no small feat” “ Homebuying inside out” “ forewarned is forearmed” ‘ your guide through the maze” “ the rest will fall into place” “ Empty nesters’ dilemma” Source: http://www.westpac.com.au/internet/publish.nsf/Content/PBHLHCEA+Homebuying

Don't forget the 'C' in WCAG Don't forget the 'C' in WCAG Presentation Transcript

  • Don’t forget the ‘C’ in WCAG! OzeWAI Melbourne 2009 OMG, look what they’ve done to our templates!
  • Accessibility? What’s that?
  • A technical issue isn’t it? What’s it got to do with us writers?
  • … but that’s for blind people and we don’t have any here
  • Oh, no, I thought the web team took care of all that stuff
  • You said the CMS would take care of all of this!
  • The problems
    • Many content authors do not know about web accessibility
    • Some think…
      • It’s about blind people, and we don’t have any of them
      • It’s a technical issue
      • The web team will handle it
  • Potential impact of writers
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  • WCAG what? They don’t really expect us to understand THIS?!!
  • Finally, some training that is relevant to my work
  • Images, emoticons, ASCII art
    • Train writers on how and when to use
      • Short descriptions (alt, img links, groups of imgs, text)
      • Long descriptions (alt + longdesc, text, linked text)
      • No description (null alt)
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  • Information, structure, relationships
    • Train writers on how and when to use:
      • Semantic elements (em, q, blockquote, cite, code, etc.)
      • List elements (ul, ol, li)
      • Heading elements (h1-h6)
      • Variations in text format/font (explained in text)
    • Show them how to do the first three using the CMS editor
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  • Sensory characteristics
    • Train writers to avoid writing instructions that use sensory characteristics such as shape, size, visual location, orientation or sound
    • When they do, remind them to identify these elements in the text
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  • Use of colour
    • Train authors to avoid using colour by itself to convey information or show meaning. They should
      • Use colour and pattern
      • Make information available in text as well
    • This will mainly relate to images, since colour should be locked down in your CMS
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  • Contrast
    • Train writers to use contrast ratios for fore/background colours of
      • 4.5:1 for small text
      • 3:3 for larger text
      • 7:1 for text over a background
    • This will mainly relate to images, since text/bg colour should be locked down in your CMS
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  • Images of text
    • Train authors to avoid using images of text except for logos and
      • Offer to help them achieved desired visual outcomes by using scripting or relevant CSS techniques
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  • Page titles
    • Train writers to write descriptive page titles for each page they publish
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  • Links
    • Train writers to write link text that describes the purpose of a link
      • In context (title attrib, sentence, paragraph, table cell/heading, preceding heading, nested list)
      • Stand alone
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  • Section headings
    • Train writers to organise content with headings
      • Show them how to use the heading levels relevant to the structure of the content
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  • Foreign language
    • Train writers to identify foreign language words and phrases
      • Show them how to apply language attributes using the CMS editor
  • Unusual words
    • Train writers to minimise non-literal or unusual use of words. If they do use them, when words have:
      • One meaning within the page, define the first use (in text, linked, via a glossary or searchable dictionary)
      • Different meanings, define each instance
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  • Abbreviations
    • Train writers to minimise use of shortened forms, but where they use them and they have:
      • One meaning within the page, define the first use (in text, using ABBR or ACRONYM, via a link, via a searchable dictionary)
      • Different meanings, define each use
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  • Reading level
    • Train writers to write at lower secondary level, or to
      • Provide an alternative version that is easier to read
      • Write a summary at lower secondary level
      • Supplement the text with explanatory visuals
    • You could help them with
      • Audio version
      • Sign language version
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  • Pronunciation
    • Train authors to include a pronunciation guide where the meaning may be ambiguous otherwise
      • After the word
      • Linked pronunciation
      • Glossary
  • Consistent identification
    • Train writers to use labels, and text alternatives consistently for components that have the same function
  • Summary
    • Don’t overlook
      • The content: it’s the reason people come to your site!
      • The potential of web writers to affect your site’s accessibility
    • Don’t assume
      • Writers know about accessibility
      • Writers will read or understand WCAG 2.0 documents
      • Your CMS will prevent accessibility problems
    • Do offer
      • Accessibility training tailored for writers
      • Accessibility topics in any web writing training
  • The (happy) end!