2.2.2 Meeting the guidelines for the second principle, operable

The following are some of the points that you might want to keep in mind when creating web content and web sites that meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 principle of operable.

The functionality and usability of web pages are critical elements of accessibility, such that the majority of Principle 2's requirements are Level A success criteria.

Level A Accessibility requirements:

  • Ensure that other means of input and controls are supported, especially through a keyboard. Not everyone with a desktop computer is able to use a mouse. Not everyone with a portable computer is able to use a track-pad. Not everyone with a tablet or smart phone is able to use the touch- or multi-touch screen.
  • Ensure a keyboard accessible option is available to return the cursor to the starting point on the page. This is particularly important on advanced, mouse-driven Web-page designs to avoid the cursor becoming "trapped" after an event moves the curser to a "pop-up" window or into another page frame.
  • Consider the users who are unable to read quickly or who for other reasons require more time to respond. On occasion, there are legitimate reasons for limiting the amount of time a user has to react to a command or a request for a response. In general, web developers must provide enough time for users who need time to read, process and react to the information on the web page.
  • Allow users to control — pause, stop or hide — moving information, especially critical information, on a web page. The information may be difficult for the user to read or too distracting to have on the screen. If users are unable to control moving information, then they might lose it.
  • Avoid blinking and flashing content that could trigger seizures in some users. Provide some mechanism that allows people using text-to-speech systems to select and jump to the main content without having to hear all the other, ancillary content on a page, especially a home or portal page. Some pages are heavily burdened with information about an organization's services, as well as with advertising, news feeds and menus with links to further content. Often these different content groupings are arranged in such a way that the main content of the page is difficult to identify or find. This is particularly true for people using text-to-speech systems. Refer also to Example 1 on the next page.
  • A sample of HTML coding with white text on a black background, including the use of heading tags.
  • Pages should be titled unambiguously, and the title should clearly reflect the page's topic or purpose. This is the title that appears on the title bar or page tab of your browser (as opposed to the HTML H1 or Heading 1 or Title style in your document). This is the text that gets saved when you bookmark the page or add it to the list of favourites in your browser. Try this experiment: Look at your personal bookmark list and think about which entries are still immediately clear to you and which ones cause you to say, "What the heck is that site?" Headings and labels on your page should also be appropriate to the content. Refer also to Example 2 and Example 3 on the next page.
  • Make sure the tabbing order makes sense. This will not only help users with keyboards navigate the site, it allows organizations to present the content in a strategic way. For example, if the user experience keeps being interrupted by a random image, content or advertisement, they may get frustrated and leave the page. Set the tabbing order to reflect how you would like someone to read the content.
  • Choose link text so that it clearly explains the purpose of the link. The ubiquitous "click here" link-text is almost always considered inaccessible. One reason, but not the only one, is that some text-to-speech systems can extract and read just the links on a page and hearing "click here" one or a dozen times is annoying and useless since the users will not know from the link-text where any particular link will take them.
  • There may be instances where you need to short form a number of links to the same work to save real estate on a page. For example, you are listing houses and after each listing there is a common link to 'amenities'. In this case, provide an alternative attribute or title so the user can find out more about the link. For example "Amenities for 168 Dalhousie St".

Level AA Accessibility requirements:

  • Provide two ways beyond typical navigation to get to other pages on the site. A search box and site map work well.
  • Provide clear and descriptive headings so users can find the information they seek more easily, and they can understand the relationships between different parts of the content more easily. Provide descriptive labels to help users identify specific components within the content.

Make sure the user can identify where they are on the page by adding emphasis to the highlighted object.