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Building Accessible Websites Paperback – Oct 11 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: New Riders Press; 1 edition (Oct. 11 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 073571150X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0735711501
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 18.7 x 2.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 739 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #485,075 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Format: Paperback
Right up front, let me say that I usually find web usability books are a major pain to read. The authors normally set themselves up as "experts" and present all their opinions as undeniable facts. While you can get good information from their writings, I quickly tire of the tone of "I'm the expert".

So why am I reading a book on web accessibility? Because I know it's good for me. It's a subject I don't know much about. And with this title, I was pleasantly surprised. This is a very readable book by an engaging writer, and it's a good mix of opinion, fact, standards, and practicality. It also helps that he doesn't much care for the "my opinion is fact" usability experts either.

With the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act, public entities have to address the issue of making their websites accessible to various groups of disabled individuals. Clark starts off by explaining how visually-disabled, hearing-disabled, learning-disabled, and physically-disabled people use computers and the web. He then explains in entertaining fashion how each type of element in your web page can be made accessible to the different devices that are used by the disabled. The suggestions are also broken down into beginning, intermediate, and advanced techniques so that developers at all levels of experience can take positive steps towards compliance with accessibility regulations.

For Notes/Domino developers, you have the same issues to deal with as do web developers on other platforms. Since Domino applications on the web are often Notes applications rendered to HTML "on the fly", it's a little more difficult to exercise the total control that other types of web page coding involve.
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Format: Paperback
In the new environment where customer service rules, all web masters must consider the needs of those whose senses are not within the ordinary norms. Furthermore, the federal government has a great deal to say about what is required of web sites when it comes to servicing the handicapped. Therefore, it is necessary for all web programmers to learn what the rules are and how to most efficiently satisfy them. That is the purpose of this book and the author is successful, although in a very preachy way.
Two pleasing points are that the author scoffs at those who play semantic games in describing people with handicaps, heaping particular scorn on the term "handicapable." People who are blind or deaf simply will not experience the web the same way as those with those senses and short of eliminating that medical limitation, nothing can be done about that. Which is the second of the points. It is absurd to try to make the experience equivalent to that of a sighted or hearing person, so the focus should be on making it as functional as possible within their field of experience.
While much has been done in terms of screen readers and closed captioning, there is still a lot of weaknesses in the technology that replaces the actions of one sense with another. Clark is very clear about those weaknesses, pointing out that some things are just not possible, so the emphasis should be on what is possible. Further points of emphasis are in the usability testing of the site, where it is difficult to perform such tests without using someone whose handicap is what the structure is supposed to overcome. As is the case with all other areas of software development, including the accessibility must be part of the initial design, as making the adaptations later is much more difficult and expensive.
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Joe Clark's detractors are the sort of critics who would gleefully detract from anyone who shows the poor taste to believe what they say and say what they mean. It's far easier to construct a rambling, nattering bleat of discontent than it is to actually write a book on web accessibility.
The book is structured to support multiple levels of interest and involvement. If you want to understand the entire history of web accessibility, it's there for the reading, but if you'd prefer to skip the narrative and get to the nitty-gritty how-to, the road signs are clear. In addition, the tools are there for proficiency levels from the first-time web designer who is willing and able to contribute only 101% toward accommodating the disabled to the veteran developer for whom 200% is still insufficient.
Clark makes it clear that not everyone is so well-informed, so esoteric, and so single-minded as he; nor should they be. He merely makes it possible to try. Accommodating, flexible, and wry -- much like the best of the Web -- "Building Accessible Websites" is as many things to as many people as such a book could possibly be.
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Format: Paperback
Building Accessible Websites is a considerable achievement: a thorough, practical guide to Web accessibility that's pleasurable to read.
The book's structure is much as one might expect. Joe Clark starts by running through "some typical objections to providing accessibility, blowing them out of the water one after another," then lists a number of active reasons for making one's site accessible. He outlines the various kinds of disabilities, explains how disabled people use computers, and defines both accessibility and the structure of accessible pages.
Having mapped out -- in five relatively brief chapters -- the nature and extent of the issues, Clark gets down to the nitty-gritty: how to make images, text & links, navigation, type and color, tables & frames, stylesheets, forms & interaction, and multimedia (including Flash) all accessible.
The long chapters on images and navigation reflect Clark's belief that addressing these two issues -- even at a basic level -- will make a site "vastly more accessible" to two large disability groups: the blind/visually-impaired and the mobility-impaired.
These how-to chapters are all organized similarly. For example, Chapter 6, The Image Problem, covers:
* the three levels of accessibility for uncomplicated image types (the alt, title, and longdesc attributes);
* variations in browser support for each attribute and workarounds;
* problem image types including advertising, animated GIFs, bullets, charts & graphs, exploded drawings, hit counters, maps, pictures of text, porn, image portfolios, rollovers, sliced graphics, spacer images, and webcams);
* succinct advice on implementation.
A section titled Bottom-Line Accessibility Advice concludes each chapter.
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