Universal Design for Web Applications
Web Applications That Reach Everyone
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Final Release Date: November 2008
Pages: 198

Universal Design for Web Applications teaches you how to build websites that are more accessible to people with disabilities and explains why doing so is good business. It takes more work up front, but the potential payoff is huge -- especially when mobile users need to access your sites.

You'll discover how to use standards-based web technologies -- such as XHTML, CSS, and Ajax, along with video and Flash -- to develop applications for a wide range of users and a variety of devices, including the mobile Web. You'll also learn specifics about this target audience, especially the key over-50 age group, whose use of the Web is rapidly growing.

With this book, you will:

  • Learn the importance of metadata and how it affects images, headings, and other design elements
  • Build forms that accommodate cell phones, screen readers, word prediction, and more
  • Create designs using color and text that are effective in a variety of situations
  • Construct tables that present information without spatial cues
  • Design Ajax-driven social networking applications that people with disabilities can access
  • Provide audio with transcriptions and video that includes captions and audio descriptions
  • Discover assistive technology support for Rich Internet Application technologies such as Flash, Flex, and Silverlight

Universal Design for Web Applications provides you with a roadmap to help you design easy-to-maintain web applications that benefit a larger audience.

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Designing for usability and multiple-platform delivery

By Roy Johnson

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Universal Design for Web Applications:

Universal design is a general principle, but it's used here as something of a coded term for two topics which are discussed in detail. One is designing for people with disabilities, and the other is designing for a variety of devices - PCs, laptops, PDAs, and most challenging of all, for mobile phones.

The argument is that more people fall into the disability category than is generally realised, and that for huge numbers of users the mobile device is now the principal means of accessing Internet services. Fail to take these two factors into account, and you are automatically falling behind in providing what users want. The first important piece of advice these authors offer is that you should separate content from presentation in everything you design.

This means using HTML in the way it was originally intended for use. Tables are for presenting tabular data, the feature for ordered lists, and so on. The tag should now be abandoned altogether, and replaced by the use of cascading style sheets (CSS).

They are quite adamantly against using tables for layout, and think CAPTCHAs ought to be banned altogether: (those are the pictures of text you're supposed to read to prove that you're a human being, not a spambot).

If you're using tables correctly however, they have a lot of useful tips for adding information in the form of captions and summaries. The same goes for making streamed video accessible for disabled users.

They explain the three different approaches to this issue: to offer audio or text transcripts, subtitles, or captions. These are time-consuming and therefore expensive to provide - but anyone who claims their web presence is designed for maximum usability to cater for all users needs to be aware of these features and incorporate them into their work.

I wonder how many of the self-righteous sites claiming full usability would pass scrutiny in this regard? Certainly not my local town council, whose site boasts full accessibility - but doesn't even include email addresses and hides behind a general menu option telephone answering service. And after you've left your message, they 'guarantee' to get back to you within ten days.

The latter chapters of the book cover working with scripts (Ajax) to produce dropdown menus that are accessible even for people using the keyboard for navigation - though when I went to look at an open source menu script they claim to have put on the book's web site (http://ud4wa.com) there was nothing available.

They finish by explaining how most of these procedures can be pursued using a content management system (CMS) with templates and style sheets. Finally, as you might expect, they offer checklists for making sure your content matches up to what's required, and resources for implementing features that cover magnification of text, scrolling, multimedia, screen readers, and full HTML validation of your output.

More WEB DESIGN (http://www.mantex.co.uk/biblios/art-web.htm) reviews here.

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