Web accessibility standards allow people with disabilities to use your web site or web application through the use of text cues, keyboard navigation, and mouse alternatives. Assistive technology, such as screen readers, interpret the information and instructions on the site. Web developers are looking now to the latest guidelines, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 (http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/#guidelines), to make sure their web sites are friendly and useful to all visitors. A web application that is compliant with WCAG 2.0 meets these standards of accessibility:
- It is perceivable. To be perceivable, a web application must provide content and a user interface that allows assistive technology to find the necessary components and present them to the user. Providing text alternatives for images is one example of a perceivable component.
- It is operable. An operable application can be run entirely from a keyboard, allows time-based and moving components to be paused or stopped, minimizes flashing elements, and provides easy ways for users to navigate through content and find their place.
- It is understandable. An application is understandable if it provides ways for assistive technology to interpret the content in the native language, including any specialized terms. It also provides help for using the application and in recovering from errors. An understandable application also behaves consistently on similar pages, doesn't change the context without warning, and labels items in the same way throughout.
- It is robust. A robust application is coded in a way that the tagging, naming, and properties for all components can be determined programmatically.
Newer versions of WebSphere Portal, Web Content Manager, and Web Experience Factory all meet the latest WCAG 2.0 accessibility standards:
- The WebSphere Portal theme templates incorporate the use of WAI-ARIA, the Accessible Rich Internet Applications specification. WAI-ARIA navigation regions allow assistive technology to communicate the section of navigation links to a user who cannot see what is on the screen.
- Web Content Manager has many reusable elements that allow you to define consistent accessibility techniques throughout a site. You can modify standard elements such as image, link, and file resource elements to add instructions for keyboard navigation and WAI-ARIA attributes.
- Web Experience Factory Designer uses a variety of builders, templates, and design techniques to enable developers to create accessible applications.
If you're interested in learning more, the following articles illustrate ways in which IBM developers built accessibility standards into our web development products. The articles also provide tips for you to keep in mind as you create your own web applications:
Web Content Manager
Web Experience Factory