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Rehabilitating the Web With Section 508

Nov 02, 2009

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Achieving full 508 compliance can be a daunting task, but there are a number of things that we can do as designers and developers to go a long way to that end. Following is a short list of some really easy things you can do right now in your web designs running on dotCMS that will go a long way to making the Web a much more satisfying and rich experience for those among us that can benefit from a little extra help.

1) Supply a value for the alt attribute (and the title attribute) of the img tag so there is information about the image even in it's absence. This is incredibly easy in the dotCMS using the WYSIWYG Editor. All that is required is a little descriptive text in the “Image Description” and “Title” fields in the Insert Image modal dialogue:

2) Specify font sizes using a relative metric such as em, keyword or percent (never pixels) so the user can freely size text to meet their needs.

3) Specify highly contrasting colors for text and backgrounds so that text is legible even when background images are turned off.

4) Use semantically appropriate markup. Avoid using markup to achieve a layout goal. Instead, try selecting your markup based on the type of data you are marking up. For example, try using tables for tabular data not for page layout.

5) See what your Web page looks like without any styles or images rendered. If it is still readable and well organized under these conditions, you're headed the right direction.

Again, this is just a short list of really simple things that we can do help out our fellow Web citizens. Learn more about making your Web pages 508 compliant at these great resources on the web:

Summary of 508 Amendment as pertains to the Web:

http://www.section508.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=Content&ID=11#web

WAI Checklist:

http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10/full-checklist.html

Assorted 508 validation tools:

http://www.w3.org/WAI/ER/tools/search.php?sort=date&submit=Sort&en=yes&section508=yes

All about WAI:

http://www.w3.org/WAI/

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