At times, beginning with a real-life example assists with understanding the nebulous concepts of web and blog accessibility. With that in mind consider this example: one of three options can be offered to individuals requiring assistance with opening a store door:
- A doorbell to ring for assistance with the door.
- An automated door that opens by pushing a button.
- An automated door that opens via a sensor, like those in grocery stores.
All three options achieve the same outcome: the door is opened. However, the degree of accessibility varies: the doorbell option requires waiting for an employee to come open the door; the button-operated door opener requires enough arm movement and hand function to press the button; the motion-sensing door opener works for anyone within the area of the sensors – no further action is required. Obviously the third option is more accessible than the first and would be provided in an ideal world. Although, in a pinch, the doorbell might be all that can be provided.
Taking this concrete example to online…the internationally-recognized Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 outlines three levels of accessibility: Level A, Level AA and Level AAA. As with the door opener example, conformance with the Level AAA guidelines, if correctly implemented, means a website or blog accessible to more people than a Level A compliant site.
Learn more about the event. To see pictures, “click here.” To listen to the presentations, “click here.” To see videos, “click here.”
The “click here” links make sense when read with the rest of the sentence or, in other words, when read in context – a Level A guideline.
However, when the paragraph is rewritten as:
Learn more about the event. To see “pictures, click here.” To listen to the “presentations, click here.” To see “videos, click here.”
Where the links are “pictures, click here”, “presentations, click here”, and “videos, click here” are the links…these links then make sense when read alone, when read out of context – a Level AAA guideline.
By rewording your hyperlinks so they make sense out of context, you are increasing your blog from a minimal level to an optimal level of accessibility (in terms of links).
Keep in mind that accessibility is not an absolute, but rather a continuum. Where possible, strive for the more, higher, optimal end of accessibility, and you open the door to more people able to read and participate on your blog.