HTML5 Sanity Check

Most of us are excited about HTML5 and all the benefits it will bring. Overly excited maybe is a more accurate term, which includes myself. We as a community need a “sanity check” about the readiness of HTML5 and its accessibility because:

  1. The spec isn’t complete (2012 for Candidate Recommendation) thus requirements may still change.
  2. The browsers are in the middle of implementation and much accessibility support isn’t provided yet.
  3. There are many accessibility issues remaining such as Canvas in general; no semantic information to assistive technology for many elements; keyboard access lacking in audio & video controls in most conditions.

The web site HTML5Accessibility.com is a great place to learn about these issues for each major web browser. Along with that is a presentation by Steve Faulkner (@stevefaulkner) of the Paciello Group: HTML5 Accessibility – Is It Ready Yet? presentation by Steve Faulkner and and Hans Hillen (SlideShare).

Because of this intermediate stage, we developers must implement more complex code as desired, including fallback methods for user agents which don’t yet support the HTML5 features. Here are some great resources on doing so:

7 comments

  1. Brad Koehler

    Posts like this are starting to get on my nerves.

    1) No the spec isn’t ready yet, but you know what else doesn’t have a confirmed signed off spec? CSS2.1, I doubt you’ll stop using that.

    2) Browser support is only going to get better from here, it down to the individual developer to decide what is right for the website they are working on.

    3) See point 2.

    People, it’s about not going overboard, do what you can while maintaining the level of accessibility that you require, there are so many options for fallbacks available.

    Scaring people out of using new technology doesn’t benefit anyone.

  2. Lucica

    I agree with Brad but I would like to add that you can achieve accessibility if you mix HTML5 with ARIA and if you really want to build an accessible website. It doesn’t matter what technology you use, it matters your will as developer to achieve an a11y result.

    Besides, NVDA reads HTML5 elements and this is a very good news !!!

  3. Dennis at Web Axe

    I think you’ve both misinterpreted my post. I advocate building HTML5 websites, but with caution and care. The articles I mention provide methods for exactly what you suggest, using fallbacks and ARIA.

    Also, in response to Brad’s first item, it’s very difficult to compare the status of the CSS 2.1 specification to HTML5; CSS 2.1 has been a Candidate Recommendation for almost 7 years and HTML5 still has 2 years to go.

  4. Michelle Conlon

    I agree with Dennis. And Dennis, thanks for all the resources.

    One thing that I want to add here (and for some reason people are not talking enough about) is that “you” as a developer/designer need to review what your audience is viewing your content with so that you can determine if you should go full on HTML5 or not.

    It is most certainly a great idea to play around with it, use it here and there where applicable. But be very very mindful in what it is that your audience is most viewing your content with. (OS/Browsers)

    Google Analytics is sooo important at this stage in order to determine that. Maybe HTML5 and all its bells and whistles is good for your audience… and maybe its not.

    Know your audience people, and based upon that, will determine what/who you develop for… Not what you “think” you should develop with.

  5. John Foliot

    @brad
    You wrote:
    “…maintaining the level of accessibility that you require…”

    What do you mean by that exactly? That there are ‘levels’ of inaccessibility that are somehow acceptable? It’s not what *you* require, it’s what your users require, and suggesting somehow that it’s OK to use some of HTML5 that is not yet accessible is not so bad, because, well, you know, it’s coming is quite offensive to me. Yes, HTML5 will bring with it many advances for accessibility, but at it’s current state there remain a number of serious issues that are unresolved, and further many of these issues are being actively argued against as being unrealistic or something that we can put off until later. The politics of ensuring HTML5 is accessible is still one huge mess.

    In short, the response you are telegraphing (and by extension the same response from other members of the web dev community) is starting to get on my nerves too.

  6. web design manila

    I am glad to see that there are people out there that have not forgotten where they came from and those that got them there. I mean does it really matter than places like wikipedia use HTML5.Keep it up!

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