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  1. ALT Tags
    • Every image should have ALT text
    • Convey the important information in the image
    • Use simple text for simple images (e.g. "*" for a bullet, numbers for a numbered image, and a single space character or an empty string for invisible images that are typically used for spacing)
    • For complex images, provide a link to a separate page with a more detailed description.
    • Prevent the ALT text from forming columns; either (a) put images on separate lines or (b) use delimiters around the ALT text or (c) don't specify the image's HEIGHT and WIDTH attributes
  2. Proper use of image maps
    • Provide text links in addition to any image map, either in-line or at the bottom of the page
    • Use useful ALT text (such as "Map of campus; use text links below")
    • Use client-side image maps whenever the client supports them
    • Use TITLE attributes to name AREA fields in client-side image maps [New for Internet Explorer 4!]
  3. Useful link text
    • Link text should be meaningful but brief
    • Use link text that can stand alone, as when the user is given a list of the links in the file
    • If this is inappropriate for the link text, use the TITLE attribute to provide the more descriptive string [New for Internet Explorer 4!]
  4. Keyboard navigation
    • The TAB key moves between links and image map areas in the order they're defined in the HTML— be sure it generally moves from left to right and top to bottom, but does not skip back and forth between groups of items
    • Use the TABINDEX attribute to specify proper keyboard navigation order when necessary [New for Internet Explorer 4!].
    • Use the ACCESSKEY attribute to provide access keys for all controls, and for links that act like controls [New for Internet Explorer 4!]
      • Underline the access key in the control's label
  5. Alternatives to controls/applets
    • Provide an alternate page that uses static text and graphics for displaying information, and standard links for input
      • Example: For a search field, provide a tree of indexed links
      • Example: For a form, provide instructions to supply information by phone, fax, mail, or email
      • Example: For information displayed by an ActiveX control or Java applet, provide a page displaying the same information as HTML text
    • Use either LABEL or TITLE tags to associate a name with every control [New for Internet Explorer 4!]
    • ActiveX controls should use Active Accessibility to be compatible with accessibility aids
    • Java applets should use Active Accessibility for Java to be compatible with accessibility aids [New for Internet Explorer 4!]
  6. Alternate pages for frames
    • You can use the NOFRAMES tag to show a link to a page that doesn't use frames
      • Be sure to label frames with the TITLE attribute [New for Internet Explorer 4!]
  7. Proper use tables and alternatives
    • Provide alternate pages that don't use tables, except for simple tables where (a) no information will be lost or order changed when the table tags are ignored, and (b) text does not form multiple columns
    • Make sure that tables make sense when read from left-to-right, top-to-bottom
    • Use the TITLE attribute to provide appropriate names for rows and columns (such as "Navigation Bar" or "Sales for June") [New for Internet Explorer 4!]
    • Use the TITLE attribute to provide appropriate name for individual cells when appropriate (that is, when the single cell serves a unique purpose, such as "Navigation Bar") [New for Internet Explorer 4!]
  8. Support reader's formatting options
    • Don't rely on specific fonts, colors, or sizes
    • Use real heading tags not just formatted text
    • Don't require a specific window size
    • Don't assume things will line up vertically because horizontal distances may change
  9. File formats reader can use
    • Provide closed captions for all audio content that contains useful information [New for Internet Explorer 4!]; or, less effective, provide transcripts for all audio content
    • Provide ASCII or HTML alternatives to any private formats, except when the material is only relevant to readers on specific platforms or with access to specific technologies.
    • Use text fields for embedded objects, such as the comment records in GIF and PNG files
  10. Avoid moving objects
    • Avoid using scrolling marquees wherever possible; otherwise, provide an alternative page
    • Provide alternate pages with static text when the client has animation turned off
    • Never use marquees as links
    • Avoid the Blink tag
  11. Provide titles for objects
    • Use the TITLE attribute to provide user-friendly names for the following objects: A, APPLET, AREA, BGSOUND, BUTTON, CODE, COL, COLGROUP, DIV, EMBED, FORM, FRAME, H1-H6, IFRAME, IMG, INPUT, LABEL, MARQUEE, OBJECT, OPTION, SELECT, TABLE, TD (if appropriate), TEXTAREA, TR. [New for Internet Explorer 4!]

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For more information:

Mark K. Jowett, Ph.D. | |