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June 21, 2001. (are you ready?). Web Design for the Visually Impaired. Compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments, 1998. Americans with Disabilities Act.

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June 21 2001

June 21, 2001

(are you ready?)

Web design for the visually impaired

Web Design for the Visually Impaired

Compliance with Section 508 of the

Rehabilitation Act Amendments, 1998

Americans with disabilities act
Americans with Disabilities Act

  • 1990 Law ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, State and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation

  • Section 508 of the 1998 Rehabilitaion Act Amendment requires standards for information technology under ADA.

Rehabilitation act amendments
Rehabilitation Act Amendments

  • Sets standards for access to information technology by the disabled.

  • Applicable to government agencies and organizations which prepare info for the U.S. government.

  • Prepare anyway! Sooner or later, the standards will be extended under ADA

Section 508 requirements
Section 508 Requirements

  • Disabled individuals must have comparable access to information as the non-disabled do. Few exceptions.

  • Standards apply to computers, software, operating systems, and the techniques of presentation of information, such as Internet and Intranet web pages.

Focusing on the web
Focusing on the Web

  • How do visually impaired and blind access the web?

  • What can we, responsible for web development, do to ensure good compliance?

Two approaches
Two Approaches

  • Develop alternate sets of materials

  • Develop materials which are adaptable

Visually impaired
Visually Impaired

  • Those with partial vision

  • The colorblind

  • The dyslexic

  • Those susceptible to seizures

Visually impaired1
Visually Impaired

  • For partial vision, make text resizable without L-R scrolling. Design for it. Test it.

  • For colorblind, avoid passing information through color alone. Underline links.

  • For dyslexic, best assisted by readers

  • For seizure susceptible, avoid blink rates between 2 and 55 cycles per second.

The blind
The Blind

  • Two modes: text to braille and text to speech

  • Software: JAWS, Connect Outloud, Outspoken (Mac), PW Webspeak,

  • Reader software varies in capabilities. The best will announce links, headers, table structure, frame structure, etc., as it reads the text and your descriptions!

Blind navigation
Blind Navigation

  • Can you navigate a complex web page without touching a mouse?

  • Consider navigation of frames, tables, ads, long header menus, pop-ups, etc.

  • Keystrokes can select next and previous link, jump to top or bottom of page, shift frames, close a window, stop reading, restart reading, etc. Learn, design for it.


  • Make sure ALL graphics have alt="" parameters.

  • Explain the purpose thoroughly in alts

  • Purely decorative graphics should use alt="" with no content between quotes

  • Avoid all color cues and graphical cues (image maps). Think it through.


  • Make sure the link text is thoroughly descriptive.

  • Avoid "click here" links. (The blind can skip from link to link.)

  • Provide links at the top to skip over long repeated navigational link series (pages are revisited frequently).

  • Image maps MUST have alternate menus.

  • Underline links!


  • Readers describe table structure.

  • Always use <TH> tags where applicable, both for columns and rows.

  • Never omit your closing </TR>, </TH>, and </TD> tags

  • Generally, use percentages, not pixels

Testing your pages
Testing Your Pages

  • WAVE 2.01, Pennsylvania's Initiative on Assistive Technology

  • Bobby, Center for Applied Special Technology


  • Is everything well labeled?

Planning for compliance
Planning for Compliance

  • What are your priorities?

  • Inventory your problems.

  • Always put yourself in the shoes of the disabled

  • Create a plan

  • Do the most important things first.

  • Do it right the first time.

Links to disability resources
Links to Disability Resources