Special Accessibility Arrangements
There are three main groups of web users who require special arrangements:
- those with visual impairments,
- those with motor impairments,
- and those still using obsolete web browsers.
Many fully–sighted web users are surprised to discover that large numbers of partially–sighted and blind people use the web too.
Devices such as screen readers, which, as their name suggests, read aloud the text of web pages, are invaluable to those with serious visual impairments. Outdated design methods, however, such as the use of tables to control the layout, can make a website inaccessible to screen readers. Tables, which are grids rather like the cells of a spreadsheet, were invented to present tabular data (such as the lists of prices on our Domain Names page), and are no longer necessary to control the layout of web pages. Like every competent web designer, we at Lab 99 Web Design do not use tables as layout tools.
Those with less than perfect eyesight often require the ability to increase the size of the text on a web page. This can be done easily with most modern browsers (and if you have difficulty reading the small text in many websites, you may benefit from the advice on our Changing the Text Size page). Many web designers are unaware of this, and any increase in the font size destroys their layout and makes the website unusable. Lab 99 Web Design will accommodate increased font sizes within our layouts wherever practicable. We can also provide visibility options such as high contrast layouts and access keys, and we use informative labels where appropriate.
Colour blindness affects approximately 8% of the population. A complete inability to distinguish colours is, however, extremely rare. Almost all sufferers confuse certain combinations of colours: red with green in the majority of cases, blue with green in others. We will avoid using such combinations of colours for the text and background unless their contrasting hue or saturation make them visible to the colour blind. We will also avoid identifying links solely by colour.
The most important blind visitors to your website may well be the search engines, which navigate web pages much as a blind person would. Making things easy for search engines means that you too will benefit from having an accessible website!
Many visitors to websites are unable to use a mouse, either because of permanent disability or temporary injuries to their hands or arms. Instead, they move around the page by using the arrow keys, and from link to link by using the TAB key, at least in modern visual browsers. Knowledgeable able–bodied web users benefit from this technique too.
Some help can be given by including access keys and tab indexes in your website, although not all browsers recognise these features. We will include them if appropriate.
We will make the active, clickable area of navigation links as large as possible in order to help the majority of visitors, who use a mouse.
A very small proportion of web users rely on browsers that do not fully recognise cascading style sheets (CSS, to those in the trade), which control the layout of modern web pages. We at Lab 99 Web Design create our websites to ensure that these users will, as far as possible, still see properly structured pages and fully readable content.
It is possible to build websites that display the correct layout to users of obsolete browsers. Unfortunately, this has three disadvantages:
- for the vast majority of visitors using modern browsers, the websites will load very slowly;
- for those with serious visual impairments, the websites will be difficult or even impossible to use; and
- for designers, the websites will be restricted to a limited range of designs.
We do not create websites in this way unless specifically requested to — and even then we may refuse if we think that such a website will be so inaccessible as to be illegal; see our legal requirements page for details.
For more information about browsers and how they affect the appearance of a website, please see our Web Browsers page.