HTML Writers Guild Guild Operations Newsletters Tips Apr00b

HWG-News Tips Late April 2000

Effective Use of Color

HWG-News features member-submitted "tips" in each issue, in the space between articles and announcements. These were the tips submitted for the 22 April 2000 newsletter, for the following category:

Web Accessibility

In celebration of April as Accessibility Month, we want to see any and all tips that relate to making the web more accessible to all users. What do you do to make sure everyone can access your site equally?

This issue's winner!

One thing that is often-times overlooked in creating a web page is color-blind people, particularly red-green color-blind people. The trick is not to superimpose colors like grey or green on red, which makes it rather difficult to read, as red and green apear close to grey.

-- Submitted by Dustin Shaw <>

Other Tips for Web Accessibility

I am currently working with others to create a web site for seniors, and accessibility is a common topic. One of the things we have decided to do is keep out links on our verticle navigation bar large enough to read, and all of our articles are going to have an option to "Click here for larger sized print."

-- Submitted by Jolene Johnson <>

If you are planning to use style sheets to format your pages, avoid specifying absolute sizes like 10pt, otherwise users will be unable to enlarge or reduce the fonts to make your page easier to read. Instead, use percentage or small, medium, large ... values to size fonts.

Then test your design in an older browser (like Netscape v3, or even better, Lynx) to make sure the page degrades gracefully without styles, and in a version 4 browser to check that fonts can be resized.

-- Submitted by Lois Wakeman <>

If your marketing department insists that an imagemap is the best way to provide a flashy menu system for your site, consider using ALT text for the image reading "Text users can use the menu below." and add a menu below the imagemap with 1x1 transparent GIFs with appropriate ALT text as the link labels. Graphical browsers won't see the menu but those using text-only browsers will thank you.

-- Submitted by Norman De Forest <>

While including an ALT attribute for every image is a useful first step, sometimes images convey more information than an ALT attribute can usefully hold. In those cases, create a separate page with a description of the image and the information it contains (in text form), and link to it using the LONGDESC attribute. Most users will never know it is there, but your sight-impaired users can get the information they need.

-- Submitted by Kevin B. O'Brien <>

Specifically for screen readers:

ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS take the extra 10 seconds to use "ALT" tags for images.

If you must use frames, code your content pages to function without referencing the surrounding frames as targets so they will function in a non-frames enabled browser.

Stay away from image maps, especially those with complex link targets

Restrain yourself from using complex tables and restrain from embedding colspans and rowspans greater than 1 in tables.

Always use meaningful row and column headers when tables cannot be avoided.

End each content statement with a period. (You can <font> the color to the same color as the background if you don't want it to show.)

Use standard W3C html pages, and if your business need force you to stray, provide an alternate means of getting the same content (ie. text only pages, simplified pages, etc.)

Remember: The benefits outweigh the challenges. Not only is your site accessible to multiple audiences, but easily ported to and viewed from multiple devices such as palm organizers, palmtop pc's, the emerging internet appliances, cell phone WML browsers, and voice interface content delivery via telephone.

-- Submitted by Ken Bowman <>

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