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Testing for Accessibility

So, you’ve done all you can to make your site fully accessible. And now you have to test it! There are many different methods and opinions of what the best way is, as Dennis explains, and auto-checker applications are only a small piece of the pie.

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Great tools for testing web accessibility:


definition podcast web

Terminology Explained

Clearing up a few strange terms related to accessibility.

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  • A user agent is the client application used with a particular network protocol.
  • Device independent means a user can perceive and interact with the Web through any type of apparatus (mobile phones, PDAs, interactive television systems, etc.). Device independent on Wikipedia
  • Assistive Technology (AT) is a generic term that includes assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices and the process used in selecting, locating, and using them.
  • A deprecated element or attribute is one that has been outdated by newer constructs.
code navigation podcast web

Skip-Nav Technique

The “skip-nav” technique is a method for the online cursor to jump over a group of navigation links, usually a site’s main menu.

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Sample code:

Skip navigation
...[header and navigation links]...


This is the first paragraph

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Abbreviation and Acronym Issue

Using the ABBR and ACRONYM tags is a great technique that is simple and works very well—with standards-compliant browsers, that is. Until IE complies to world web standards, coders must hack the functionality in. I despise hacking for IE and try to avoid it. But, we have to admit that around 85% of users are still on IE and we should try to go out of our way sometimes to gratify them. If this is you, please try a standards-compliant browser such as Firefox or Netscape.

The ABBR and ACRONYM tags give the user the full text for an abbreviation and acronym. For example, ID would have “identification” associated with it. Example:


But this won’t work in IE due to its lack of standards-compliancy. The method I’ve used the for word “ID” above so that it works in IE also is as follows: (the CSS would be in a global stylesheet, of course):


Is this the best method for now? Should we coders be using these methods at all?

alt code image podcast text web

ALT, Long Description, D-Link

Good and bad examples of the ALT parameter. Long descriptions and D-links: what are they and how do you code one?

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W3C on text equivalents

Code samples:

Ornate photo of Ms. Kensington

Chart of XYZ Corporation Earnings 1995 through 2005

Chart of XYZ Corporation Earnings 1995 through 2005