SXSW Notes: Standardzilla vs. Tablella

Loose notes from SXSW 2006 session “Standardzilla vs. Tablella”

Thought this would be a nuts/bolts session on table-based vs. CSS design, but turned out to be more of a review session, analyzing submitted sites for semantic correctness and accessibility.


[Only caught the 2nd half of this session]

If you use a fixed font size, then View | Larger/Smaller has no effect in most browsers.

Coding for disability is slightly different from coding for accessibility. Common problem: Buttons too small. Requires a lot of muscular attention, difficult when working from a standing position, or for physically challenged.

Using the “label” tag on form elements makes the whole text label for the checkbox (ex.) clickable, so you don’t just have to aim for that small box. This also contributes to 508 compliance for your form.

Bob Regan: Case study – Macromedia.com. There was no way to move the massive ship and get all departments to move to XHTML right away. But the one concession was that all pages include an Accessibility link, which goes to a page describing how to use accessibility on the site, with option for direct human contact. And a real human responds through this safety net — Macro will even call back. This is NOT a full time job – the email support requests are very rare, but its presence makes a huge difference.

Target.com – TOTAL accessibility disaster. Endless lists to navigate before getting to content. No alt tag on 30% off link resulted in discrimination, where sales are not available to disabled users.

Test: don’t use mouse, turn off your screen, try it in grayscale, try it without javascript, try it without CSS. No replacement for working directly with a disabled person. If you don’t have easy access to a disabled person, try the “Guild of accessible web designers” – you can ask them for a site review and they’ll work with you.

Challenges:

– Pay attention to small details

– Think about formal or informal usability testing (even bring a friend over and get their opinion)

– Try and provide a way so that if you make a mistake and info is not accessible, that there’s an avenue for people to contact you and get the info they need.

– Have a checklist of accessibility items with any redesign.

– Usability/Accessibility/Standards need to be part of the process, always, no questions asked. There should not be a debate over whether to put in the extra effort. If it’s part of the process, there is very little extra effort.

Think of cognitive disability as being roughly equal to designing for the “inattentive user.”

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