Access options:

Accessibility - options and features

Last revision: 28th May 2009

Here are the details of the accessible design features used on this site.

Access keys

Most browsers support jumping to specific links by typing keys defined on the web site. On Windows, you can press ALT + an access key, then enter; on Macintosh, you can press Control + an access key, then enter.

All pages on this site define the following access keys:
Access key Action Taken
4 Skips to the site search
S Skip straight to the pages content area.

Browser text-size adjustments

The text on this web site has been designed to allow you to use browser controls to resize it to whatever size works best for you.

Firefox (Windows & Mac):
The control and the plus key together increases the font size. Control minus decreases the font size.
Internet Explorer (Windows):
From the menu bar select View > Text Size, and choose a suitable text size.
Netscape and Mozilla (Windows):
From the menu bar select View > Text Zoom, and choose a suitable text size.
Opera (Windows):
From the menu bar select View > Zoom, and choose a suitable page magnification.
Safari (Mac):
From the menu bar select View > Make Text Bigger, and increase to a suitable text size.
Internet Explorer (Mac):
From the menu bar select View > Text Size, and choose a suitable text size.
Netscape & Mozilla (Mac):
From the menu bar select View > Text Zoom, and choose a suitable text size.
Opera (Mac) users:
From the menu bar select View > Zoom, and choose a suitable page magnification.

Note: most modern browsers scale up all content by holding down the control key (Ctrl) and scrolling the mouse wheel

The site is viewable at font-sizes up to 400% with little degradation. For larger text sizes I suggest disabling the style sheet.

  1. All link menus are preceded by a h2 heading to ease screen reader navigation.
  2. The content starts with a h1 heading.
  3. All pages on this site include a search box (access key 4). The search facility is provided by Google. Consequentially the search results page is outside the control of this site.
  4. Link text is never duplicated; two links with the same link text always point to the same address.
  5. There are no links that open new windows without warning.
  6. Every text link, in the content area, has an underline:
    • Unvisited links are dark blue with a solid lighter blue underline. Example Unvisited
    • Visited links are also dark blue. They have a dotted underline. Example Visited
    • Focused and active links have a solid underline with link text in orange on a light blue background. Example Focus or Active
    • Hovered links have black text with a light blue background. Example Hover
    • Acronyms, glossary and help have a dashed underline in light blue, the cursor also changes to a question mark. Example: W3C
    • Web objects such as inputs, text areas, buttons and image links have a red border upon focus. Example: Input area with red border depicting focus
    The underlines are coded as borders and are separated from the text a little more than usual. This is to aide the readability of the document. If any problems are incurred with this method please contact me.
  7. Many links have title attributes which describe the link in greater detail, unless the text of the link already fully describes the target (such as the headline of an article).
  8. Links are written to make sense out of context.

Design criteria

Visual design

  1. This site uses cascading style sheets for visual layout.
  2. This site uses only relative font sizes, compatible with the user-specified "text size" option in visual browsers. The page design will hold to 400% magnification above which I would suggest switching the style sheet off.
  3. If your browser or browsing device does not support style sheets, the content of each page is still readable and navigable.
  4. With style sheets switched off you are presented with an almost text-only version of the page.

Images

  1. All content images used in this site include descriptive alt attributes.
  2. Images used purely for decoration are coded as background images through CSS and therefore do not appear in the XHTML mark-up at all.

Acronyms and abbreviations

Due to its technical nature, this site makes use of many acronyms and abbreviations. I try to define each instance with the appropriate XHTML tag. Acronyms have a solid underline in green, the cursor also changes to a question mark.

JavaScript usage

This site uses JavaScript in order to improve functionality and usability:

  1. All JavaScript functions and calls are held in separate files.
  2. The site is fully usable and navigable with JavaScript off.
  3. Specifically JavaScript is used for:
    1. Providing highlighted borders to focused form elements.
    2. Opening and closing information panels.

Standards compliance

  1. All pages on this site are Bobby AA approved, complying with the Bobby guidelines. This is always a judgment call; many accessibility features can be measured, but many can not. I have reviewed all the guidelines and believe that all these pages are in full compliance.
  2. All pages on this site is WCAG AA approved, complying with all priority 1 and 2 guidelines and most of priority 3 of the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Again, a judgment call; many guidelines are intentionally vague and can not be tested automatically. I have reviewed all the guidelines and believe that these pages are in full compliance with one exception. The need for an advanced search mechanism. Due to the relatively small size of this site I do not believe it to increase the sites accessibility or usability.
  3. All pages on this site are Section 508 approved, complying with the U.S. Federal Government Section 508 Guidelines. Again, a judgment call.
  4. All pages on this site validate as XHTML 1.0 Strict. This is not a judgment call; a program can determine with 100% accuracy whether a page is valid XHTML. For example, check this page for XHTML validity.
  5. All pages on this site use structured semantic markup. The first heading (h1) is the company name and tag line the second the content title (default centre column) and subsequent headings h2 to h6 are used in the correct order for sub-headings.

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