Improve web accessibility by translating HTML and testing techniques and tools


Web accessibility benefits us all. Designers, developers, and testers can ensure web accessibility and make the web and services more inclusive, for example by using semantic HTML, following web standards when coding, and testing web accessibility. Countries are developing regulations to enforce inclusive standards.

Josefine Schaefer will be giving a talk on web accessibility. Romanian Experimental Conference 2023. This conference will be held on June 6-8, 2023 in Cluj-Napoca.

According to Schaeffer, there are good reasons to care about web accessibility. Access to information and communication technologies, including the Internet, is a fundamental human right defined by the United Nations. And web accessibility benefits all of us, not just some people with disabilities.

If you look at your phone in bright sunlight, you’ll benefit from adequate color contrast, if you’re in an environment where you can’t turn up the volume, captions will help you understand the content of the video – there are many such examples.

Schaefer talks about the use of semantic HTML and the benefits it brings. Semantic HTML means using HTML elements for their intended purpose – like using an H1 for the most important heading, or the button element when using a button. It provides context for assistive technology users and, as an added benefit, native HTML elements come with many inheritable functions that you would otherwise have to add yourself.

This might mean adding the right type to the input element, making sure the header structures are hierarchical, and thinking about the use of divs.

According to Schaeffer, there are tools that can help you when testing for web accessibility. You can test keyboard accessibility by manually tapping on a page, but you can also use tools like taba11y to visualize tab flow. There are also more comprehensive tools, such as AxDev Tools, to audit your page and guide you through points that could be improved. For color contrast, there are many different tools to help you assess the contrast ratio between your foreground and background.

InfoQ did an interview Josephine Schaefer About improving web accessibility

Info: What are the different aspects of web accessibility?

Josephine Schaefer: One of the most common issues is related to color contrast. This means providing enough contrast between the background and the foreground to make the content recognizable.

Another important aspect is keyboard accessibility: we want to make sure that websites can’t just be used with a mouse or trackpad, but that users can navigate with a keyboard or assistive technology.

Info: How can we improve keyboard accessibility?

Shaffer: Make sure all interactive elements, such as links or buttons, are accessible with the keyboard – not just the mouse or trackpad. Make sure the focus on the active element is visible and has sufficient color contrast. If you’re working with a hover style, make sure the information is passed to people who don’t hover but use the page. And of course, make sure you don’t “trap” your users anywhere. There should be no points in the application that cannot be accessed without a keyboard.

Info: What does the future hold for web accessibility?

ShafferI hope that in the future it will bring awareness to the importance of web accessibility and its many different aspects. Ideally, this would mean a transition to fully standardizing web accessibility testing in software and web development. More and more countries are adopting regulations to enforce universal standards, one of many steps toward standardization. I also hope that it will increase the awareness of people with “invisible disabilities”, among others, it will shed light on neurodivergent people and their experiences.

InfoQ: Where can InfoQ readers go to learn more about web accessibility?

Shaffer: W3 gives a very detailed description Basics of web accessibility. There are also community-led projects. The a11y projectLists many resources and great articles on a variety of accessibility-related topics. A11ycasts with Rob Dodson It’s also a great resource for learning more about web accessibility.

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