Accessibility Handbook – Making 508 Compliant Websites, By Katie Cunningham; Publisher: O’Reilly Media

The Accessibility Handbook book cover photo The Accessibility Handbook is written for people who code web sites. It will identify the conditions, both physical and cognitive, that require special coding accommodation and provide sample code and guidance on how to gain compliance with section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act. Compliance is required for all Federal Agencies and contractors. It is also a standard followed by many state and local governments and has served as a basis for other countries implementing accessibility standards.

The author defines several conditions that can limit a user in their ability to use a website. Code samples demonstrate techniques for overcoming the challenges some users face. Major topics include users with complete blindness, low vision, audio limitations, physical limitations, and cognitive disorders. The book contains links to other resources and tools useful in coding an accessible website. I tested several and found areas that I can improve. On thing to consider is the number of older users that may need to increase type to view the site easily. This would fall under a low vision condition. I find myself using CRTL+ + to increase font sizes quite often. We give much consideration to making responsive designs to accommodate different devices. How often do we consider the user that has to increase font sizes greatly to read the type? Have we considered how that awesome drop down menu affects a person that must navigate with the keyboard or a screen reader? These are type of issues that would fall under accessibility.

I liked this book and would highly recommend it. I learned about website use factors that I had previously never considered. I knew color blindness existed. I did not know there were different types and how things might appear to someone with the condition. I have often used color to indicate a current page in a navigation menu. This is a practice I will alter in future designs. My intention is to make accessibility a prime consideration in my designs. This will aid users with challenges and provide a better website for all.

Disclosure: I recieved a free e-book copy for review purposes.

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