Wise Women List Archive File



> Usability.gov - practical tips and tricks for building a better web site.
> http://www.usability.gov/

Does it strike anyone besides me as odd that a site promoting usability/accessibility builds its page with tables? And uses graphics as headings? I guess I was hoping for a nice looking site that was an outstanding example of accessible coding.

Well... it is a jumble, to be certain. But have you looked at it in lynx? The tables degrade gracefully, the images are all labeled, and they even have a skip navigation option -- wonderful for folks using text browsers or screen readers.

I think this site was aimed primarily at the National Cancer Institute, and other US governmental sites affected by Section 508[1]. While Section 508 is a big step towards accessibility, it doesn't require table-free layouts or not using graphics -- it only requires that tables degrade gracefully and that all graphics have alt tags (as well as some real common sense things like documents being readable without the style sheet, that color is not the only way information is conveyed,...).

The front page *is* visually overwhelming -- but it still has some useful links and information about usability and accessibility, even if it isn't a great example of the former.

[1] http://www.usability.gov/accessibility/508.html

What exactly does "degrade gracefully" mean? My slide menu just doesn't show up at all in Opera...is that graceful? (I'm asking cuz I'm pretty sure it said that when I found the script for it.)

Usually it means "person can still use the site in a meaningful way - even if not in exactly the same way"

For example - if someone can't see your menu then it *isn't* degrading gracefully, because now people can't get off the front page. IF iyour menu was permenantly "on" and on the left hand side (like when it's been moused over) that *would* be degrading gracefully, because people can still use it, and it isn't destroying the site, even if it's not as sexy as your original idea.

If it was permenantly on, but in the middle of the page, or down the bottom, or on the right, or something weird, then again it wouldn't be degrading gracefully.

Degrade gracefully means that there's an alternative way something will work. For example, if images are turned off, the ALT tag information will describe the image. If JavaScript is turned off, the rollovers may not work but the links WILL work. If someone doesn't have a Flash plug-in, there's text describing the information within the Flash document. Or if Flash is used for navigation, then an alternative to provide site navigation for non-Flash users would be needed. If CSS hover tags are used for text links, people can still navigate the site just fine even with NN4.x browsers that don't recognize the hover tag (if you need to make sure the links still work fine for NN4.x, which is still the case much of the time).

Regarding the slide menu on your site, if it doesn't show up at all, is there an alternative menu that DOES show up? Is the site still usable and make sense? Can people still navigate within the site?

Graceful degradation doesn't mean that it must have the same layout, as it may or may not; however, the page(s) need to have an alternative that will work and still be usable and make sense. If something just can't have an alternative on the page, then an alternate page or site would be used for accessibility.

I hope that makes sense, too.

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