Web Accessibility Is Similar To Search Engine Optimization
Some of the techniques we discuss here will be familiar to people who have done search engine optimization of a site in the past. At first I was surprised to see a similarity between some of the techniques used in the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) but then I realized that search engine spiders or web crawlers, programs that parse web pages to get the content, can only read text. This means images, graphs, flash, and other multimedia objects are lost on the spiders.
Spiders are similar to page readers that read the text of a page to a user. One example of a page reader is the IBM Home Page Reader. We do not want to get caught up in thinking the only people we are making the web pages accessible for are blind people. There are many groups of people from people that cannot read the smaller fonts a lot of sites use to those that cannot hear well. We will be covering the majority of groups in this even though we are doing "just the basics".
We will be covering the use of "alt" attribute and "title" attribute with image tags and "title" with anchor tags. We will also discuss how to make Graphs and Charts usable beyond just the simple alt attribute. From there we will discuss how we can use color and contract but yet not rely on it by testing the site in gray scale.
Anyone that has done search engine optimization knows that using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is the best way to optimize a site. We will learn why using CSS is so important and how it can actually save us a lot of time. The last topic we will discuss is the ability to traverse the site without using a mouse. I always love this topic but most people do not so I am going to make it as easy as possible.