The Universe at Your Fingertips
Block 3 Sessions, 1:00-1:45 p.m.
Program L

An Accent on Access: Writing HTML for the Widest Possible Audience

Michael J. Reagan
Circulation Unit Coordinator, Database Coordinator II
California State University, Northridge

Web authors are often tempted to use the latest and sexiest means to present their information. "Hot" and "Cool" sites use dancing graphics, frames, tables, specific fonts, background and foreground colors to entice the reader and delight the eye. Sound clips often convey emotional content that cannot be expressed in text. Digital video clips are jerky but they do move.

This tends to disenfranchise some users, however. When we put up web pages to provide information to our clientele, we need to remember their limitations, and make our information accessible. Deaf readers need text support for sound clips, as well as visual clues to any audio stimuli, including beeps and bells. Blind readers need to be able to access the information content through text presented in a linear manner, so that it can be rendered as sound by their specialized equipment. Readers at the end of a telephone line need access to the information content even when they turn off display of inline images, and readers with older computers need pages that work with a text browser, such as Lynx.

The presentation will demonstrate HTML coding techniques to enhance accessibility without totally forsaking attractiveness. The potential audience will be web authors who can understand HTML tagging without lengthy explanations.

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