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  1. #1
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    Accessibility Guidelines

    I am currently designing a site and would like to find out from the experts what is 'okay' and what is not as far as accessibility goes.
    First, font sizes. Is it okay to use px/pt for setting a font size, or should I use em/%/keywords, I know that latter are based off of the users browser font setting, but often it is hard to get a good layout with them (e.g. on nav menus) so is it okay to use absolute font widths?
    Next, CSS some people say that my site should look fine without a CSS sheet, but I am now using 'floats (<div>'s)' and if you remove the CSS sheet then my layout all goes, is there a way to solve this or do I not need to bother aboft making my site work without a CSS sheet?
    JavaScript, I have been out of the web development world for a few years now, but it used to be that many users had it turned off, what is the JavaScript scene like now, is it at last acceptable?
    Layouts, fixed or fluid, which one is best for a modern accessible website?
    And last browsers, do I need to make my site look correct in all four main browsers (Safari/Opera/IE/Mozilla) as some of them have some very nasty bugs, which will force me to use junk such as the '_' hack and the tan/holly hacks which I do not want to do, so how important is it.
    Thanks for all of your advice.

  • #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by evilguru
    Next, CSS some people say that my site should look fine without a CSS sheet
    The idea is to mark the content of your html document up semantically - so even if the user has stylesheets turned off, or the user agent they are using can't display them - your page is still meaningful and fully functional.

    Basically, your html 'describes' what the content is (usually with a few semantically neutral tags thrown in, as anchors for your design).

    It's not really a case of it looking fine: as in - exactly the same without CSS. It's a case of it still being meaningfull and usable without CSS.

    Hope that helps?

    Kindest Regards,

    GARY

  • #3
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    • Is it okay to use px/pt for setting a font size, or should I use em/%/keywords, I know that latter are based off of the users browser font setting, but often it is hard to get a good layout with them (e.g. on nav menus) so is it okay to use absolute font widths?
      Use EM
    • Next, CSS some people say that my site should look fine without a CSS sheet, but I am now using 'floats (<div>'s)' and if you remove the CSS sheet then my layout all goes, is there a way to solve this or do I not need to bother aboft making my site work without a CSS sheet?
      Your site should be readable with a logical order when not styled. It is best to code the HTML without any regard to styling. It should read like a book. Styling should be applied as an additional/optional layer.
    • JavaScript, I have been out of the web development world for a few years now, but it used to be that many users had it turned off, what is the JavaScript scene like now, is it at last acceptable?
      As long as it enhances your site and can be removed/disabled without any ill-effects, yes, Javascript can be good for a site.
    • Layouts, fixed or fluid, which one is best for a modern accessible website?
      Fluid.
    • And last browsers, do I need to make my site look correct in all four main browsers (Safari/Opera/IE/Mozilla) as some of them have some very nasty bugs, which will force me to use junk such as the '_' hack and the tan/holly hacks which I do not want to do, so how important is it.
      You should code according to the specifications. You should of course check your site is at least readable in various user-agents.
    Forget style. Code to semantics. Seperate style from structure, and structure from behaviour.
    I code to specs, and test only in Firefox (unless stated otherwise).

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    Thank you very much! I am currently coding my page using XHTML strict as my doctype and checking that both my CSS and XHTML are valid. But, how do I know what looks 'correct', so that I can tell if it is a browser bug or not, as sometimes every browser will display something different.

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    Quote Originally Posted by evilguru
    Thank you very much! I am currently coding my page using XHTML strict as my doctype and checking that both my CSS and XHTML are valid. But, how do I know what looks 'correct', so that I can tell if it is a browser bug or not, as sometimes every browser will display something different.
    It doesn't matter. Your CSS (style) should have little to no impact on your markup. Do your markup first, then start trying to style it.

    Also, many user-agents don't support XHTML.
    Forget style. Code to semantics. Seperate style from structure, and structure from behaviour.
    I code to specs, and test only in Firefox (unless stated otherwise).

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    Quote Originally Posted by evilguru
    I am currently coding my page using XHTML strict as my doctype and checking that both my CSS and XHTML are valid. But, how do I know what looks 'correct', so that I can tell if it is a browser bug or not, as sometimes every browser will display something different.
    Fwiw, it's increasingly common practice to use Firefox as the development browser as its standards support is amongst the very best of the more prominent browsers.

    Quote Originally Posted by hemebond
    Also, many user-agents don't support XHTML.
    At this point I think it's worth clarifying that XHTML is most commonly referred to in its capacity as a markup scheme.
    Yes, it should ideally be served as application/xhtml+xml, but XHTML 1.0 Strict is permitted to be served as text/html. It's not the XHTML markup that some UAs (e.g. IE) don't support, but the application/xhtml+xml delivery mime-type.

    Statements such as "many user-agents don't support XHTML" can be misleading as they lack sufficient detail to make them usefully correct. Imho, if the idea is to share knowledge, then the detail is worth including in this case.


    Admittedly, I've not tested my own output thoroughly using assistive UAs, but I've never known my XHTML 1.0 Strict output (conditionally served as either application/xhtml+xml or text/html) to behave in a way in a certain UA that might suggest that the UA doesn't 'support' it.

    If you know of any specific UAs that don't support XHTML markup (legitimately) served as text/html, then I'd be genuinely interested to know. That kind of info is always useful to know.
    Last edited by Bill Posters; 08-08-2005 at 09:01 AM. Reason: fix quote tag

  • #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Posters
    but XHTML 1.0 Strict is permitted to be served as text/html. It's not the XHTML markup that some UAs (e.g. IE) don't support, but the application/xhtml+xml delivery mime-type.
    Permitted? Yes. Recommended? No. All you get from using XHTML where you really want HTML, is more work from the browsers error-handling. If you want text/html, use HTML. If you want application/xhtml+xml use XHTML.
    Forget style. Code to semantics. Seperate style from structure, and structure from behaviour.
    I code to specs, and test only in Firefox (unless stated otherwise).

  • #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by hemebond
    Permitted? Yes. Recommended? No. All you get from using XHTML where you really want HTML, is more work from the browsers error-handling. If you want text/html, use HTML. If you want application/xhtml+xml use XHTML.
    I've yet to post (here at CF) about what I believe to be the small, but real benefits of using the XHTML markup scheme with or without the application/xhtml+xml mime-type, but I'll try to make it the abridged version…

    The W3C endorses the serving of XHTML markup as text/html as a legitimate form of backwards compatibility, and consequently I see no harm in serving it that way.
    I certainly see no benefits of using HTML 4.01 markup (text/html) over using XHTML 1.0 (text/html), yet I believe that the stricter formal structure required of valid XHTML 1.0 can be useful in helping authors develop an appreciation of modularisation and 'well-formedness' - something which can help prepare them for when they go the whole hog by serving their XHTML markup as application/xhtml+xml, at a point in time when they feel that it offers significant benefits to them and their sites.
    The benefits are more humanist than technical, but despite what others might claim, it is not inherently harmful to take this half-step forward by producing XHTML standard markup and serving it as text/html.

    Modularisation and well-formedness are indeed concepts which are permissable in HTML 4.01, but which no part of the specification (to my knowledge), no validation process and quite probably few, if any, tutorials place any emphasis upon.


    I appreciate that this is a view that isn't particularly popular amongst purists and pragmatists (read: dogmatists), but I'm happy to look beyond the views of anne, hixie et al and defer to the authority of the W3C themselves, whom they endorse it as a legitimate technique.
    I also appreciate that you may be amongst those of whom who have willfully 'deaf ears' on this view, as possibly demonstrated by your original statement which totally overlooked the legitimate possibility of serving XHTML 1.0 markup as text/html, whereby support becomes almost (totally?) universal.
    There seems to be a very propagandist tone to many who share your view, but whilst I recognise that it is a good thing to gently nudge authors 'forward' with their practices, it shouldn't be done at the cost of being entirely truthful about their options.
    Last edited by Bill Posters; 08-08-2005 at 09:00 AM.

  • #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by w3
    What mime-type should XHTML be served with?

    The short answer is application/xhtml+xml, as described by the XHTML Media-types Note. But the long answer adds some important modulations.
    Quote Originally Posted by w3
    why is there a new mime-type for XHTML? The first reason is that XHTML is not HTML
    Quote Originally Posted by w3
    If you follow these guidelines, it is allowed to serve your XHTML as text/html
    Which part of that is an endorsement? And what happens when a strict SGML parser comes by your fake HTML site and tries to parse it? Why not use HTML when that clearly is what you want? HTML is just as much a specification as XHTML. If you want your site to be as accessible as possible, the most widely supported markup is HTML.

    I'm not being difficult, I just believe in doing things properly, and I will continue to bring up this issue whenever someone asks for my opinion or advice.

    Evilguru, could I see some of your documents?
    Last edited by hemebond; 08-08-2005 at 10:37 AM.
    Forget style. Code to semantics. Seperate style from structure, and structure from behaviour.
    I code to specs, and test only in Firefox (unless stated otherwise).

  • #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by hemebond
    Which part of that is an endorsement?
    I'd say the bit in the (previously linked) table that puts forward text/html as an alternative mime-type for XHTML 1.0. If the W3C weren't willing to endorse it in some way, would they really list it in their documents or listing it as an alternative to application/xhtml-xml?
    Given that technically speaking, XHTML 1.1 can be served as text/html, if the table were simply about listing what is technically possible, then it's probably that text/html would have appeared in the XHTML 1.1 column also.
    It didn't, which implies a level of endorsement to those options which are listed.

    And what happens when a strict SGML parser comes by your fake HTML site and tries to parse it?
    Tbh, I wouldn't know for sure, but then I've never known any UA spit the dummy because of one of my XHTML 1.0 Strict as text/html sites.
    If you know of a UA that would do so, then as I've asked before (to no response) please let me/us know. That kind of info would be genuinely useful to know.


    Why not use HTML when that clearly is what you want? HTML is just as much a specification as XHTML. If you want your site to be as accessible as possible, the most widely supported markup is HTML.
    As I said, I've never known any of my sites to run into problems on account of using XHTML markup. If you're advocating universal support for UAs, then surely using XHTML as application/xhtml+xml is far, far more likely to run into support problems than XHTML as text/html.
    If someone is using XHTML markup, then I feel that would suggest that they actually want XHTML, not HTML. XHTML 1.0 markup user should be informed about the benefits of using the 'ideal' mime-type, but shouldn't be herded away from using text/html in the meantime. I certainly don't feel that there's anything to be gained by telling people to revert to using HTML 4.x.
    Serving XHTML markup as text/html is an understandable 'half-step' forward as is usually done by those who have an expressed interest in developing their understanding and skills. It yields not great, but still some benefits to the individual author and their appreciation of good coding practices (v-a-v 'well-formedness').
    I feel that a half-step such as this is entirely in keeping with the notion of XHTML 1.0 markup as a primarily transitional scheme.


    I'm not being difficult, I just believe in doing things properly, and I will continue to bring up this issue whenever someone asks for my opinion or advice.
    I do appreciate that. It's the same rationale for me. I also believe in doing things (such as this) properly and within the rules.
    As disagreeable as you might find it, serving XHTML 1.0 markup as text/html is within the rules.

    Fwiw, I'm not trying to be difficult either and I'm certainly not seeking to deter you from posting your views on any subject.
    I'm simply endeavouring to make sure that members of any forum of which I'm a member are presented with a balanced set of opinions and aren't left to the mercy of those (of either camp) who might be tempted to be a litle bit economical with the truth.

    It's all good.


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