Balanone's Accessibility Plan

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Updated April 24, 2003


The HTML Writer's Group launched an Accessibility Guidelines Implementation Project in April, 1998. Quoting from

The Accessibility Guidelines Implementation (AGI) project is designed as a way of "beta testing", in actual use on the "front lines" of web design, the WAI page author recommendations from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

Balanone participated in the HTML Writer's Group's Accessibility Guidelines Implementation Project. This page outlines Balanone's plan for increasing the accessibility of his web site.

Balanone's Plan

(June, 1998)
  • I've reviewed my basic page design, and while I originally chose to not change the basic layout plan, I've decided I like a red/salmon look better than the green look I had been using. I'm therefore changing background and buttons back to the red/salmon look I've used before (with some enhancements)

  • Web page technology
    • All pages will be redesigned to use cascading style sheets (CSS) wherever possible for formatting, removing the formatting from the basic HTML code, so that those with specialty browsers (such as speech-enabled browsers for the blind) will be able to read the text without hindrance.

    • Since support for CSS is so poor in both MSIE and Netscape Navigator (worse in NN 4 than MSIE 4), I can't do everything I want with just CSS. However, by using frame technology I am able to simplify the different sections of my pages enough so CSS will do almost everything I want. Therefore the main layout of every page will use frames and CSS for layout purposes.

    • Since many readers don't yet have the newer browsers that are frames-capable and CSS-enabled, and since most browsers handle CSS-based formatting poorly or not at all, each page will also have a version which is formatted using HTML tables and equivalent techniques. This will give them the same presentation in a technology they can handle. (The page layouts which use table-based formatting may load a little slower than the CSS pages load, and at least in Netscape the ctrl-F "find" function may not work, but otherwise the pages should be functionally the same as the primary CSS-enabled pages.)

    • Since some readers use older browsers and/or specialty browsers which can't support either CSS or tables, each page will have a plain text page which can be used by these oldest browsers.

    • The only exceptions to my three-layout policy that I've identified so far are:
      • this page which discusses this "accessibility" subject. It is given basically in text-only format only, to ensure that everyone can read it. There are some CSS features applied, but they should not harm the display by any browser that doesn't handle these CSS features.

      • The GeoCities guest book pages; since GeoCities will watch only one guest book entry/sign-in page, and will update only one guest book reader page, I will use just one layout of each. (As of June 12, 1998, I haven't yet determined which layout to use for these pages.)

  • Navigation Links
    • No page will have any textual navigation links above the title(s) or topic paragraph, since such textual navigation links confuse some search engine algorithms (such as Excite's). The GeoCities GeoGuide, Fortune City, and Link Exchange navigation/exchange banners will be moved to below the topic paragraph for this reason.

    • Each page will have a "no frames" button at the very top, which can be used to break out of frames at the reader's choice. Alt and Title attributes will be used to enable those without graphic capabilities to use this link to break out of frames. The Frames/CSS pages will point to the tables-layout version on the assumption that the reader wants to turn off my frames as well as previously existing frames (if any).

    • Each CSS and tables-formated page will have a "can't read" button at the top, which will point to the plain text layout, allowing the user to reach a layout of the page which they can read. There's no need for such a button on the text-only layout, since everyone should be able to read that page.

    • To enable people to get from text layouts to layouts with better presentation, there will be two navigation buttons at the top of each text-layout page, next to the "no frames" button, a) "Ver 4+" for Netscape and MS version 4 browsers and the equivalent (CSS-1 enabled), b) "Ver 2&3" for Netscape and MS version 2 and 3 browsers and the equivalent (tables enabled).

    • Since the plain text layouts don't have graphic navigation buttons down the left side, there will be a "site links" link, allowing the reader to get to the text links presented at the bottom of the page. As discussed above, this link will be located below the topic paragraph of each text page. (Exception: This link would be redundant on the site map page, and so isn't done there.)

    • These text links will include all three layouts of each page included (home page, FAQ, REF, and/or site map), allowing the user to change from one format to another if she wishes. All three site map pages will include links to all three layouts of every page.

    • Therefore anyone can move "downward" from CSS-1 to layouts to plain text by clicking on the "can't read" or "site links" links, and can move "upward" to tables or CSS-1 formats from the text links or site map. Unless someone chooses to change the level of formatting used, they will remain within a consistent level (eg: CSS-1 pages link to CSS-1 pages, tables pages link to tables pages, and text pages link to text pages).

Recommendations from those with ideas on how to further increase this site's accessibility are welcome.

Revised Stategy, July, 1999

  • Maintain the salmon background with the colored stripe down the left side.
  • Since in the past year there have been no significant improvements in CSS support, I'm scrapping CSS for now. All formatting is done using plain HTML.
  • I've gotten tired of trying to maintain three copies of each page, for each level of browser, I've therefore redesigned the "tables" format pages (for NN & MSIE version 3 browsers) so they should degrade nicely for text-only and voice browsers, and I'm standardizing on that level of technology.
  • I've moved the navigation button bar from the left side of the screen to the right side, to help with the degredation issue. I've added small spaces between sections of the navigation button bar to make it easier for the reader to see the logical groupings.
  • I've renamed the "no frames" button to "frames breakout", which can be used to break out of others' frames at the reader's choice. Since this site no longer uses frames, I've moved this button to the bottom of the navigation bar. Alt and Title attributes will be used to enable those without graphic capabilities to use this link to break out of frames.
  • The "site links" link from the previous text versions have been renamed to "Text Navigation" and are now present in all pages, allowing the reader to get to the text links presented at the bottom of the page. As discussed above, this link will be located below the topic paragraph of each text page. (Exception: This link would be redundant on the site map page, and so isn't done there.)

Status: April, 2003

  • Using Dreamweaver to improve standardization of the web pages and format updates.
  • Since tables support has improved greatly in web browsers, I've moved the graphic navigation section from a table cell to an align=right table of its own. This will allow for better wrap around this navigation area.
  • I've also moved the Text Navigation link from after the topic paragraph of each text page to the bottom of the graphic navigation area. This should continue to keep the Text Navigation link close enough to the top of the page to facilitate text-only navigation, while increasing the continuity of the body text.

Accessibility Status

  • 04/16/98 - This introduction to Accessibility created/drafted
  • 04/16/98 - Balanone's Home Page accessibility layouts drafted: index.html, index.tbl.html, index.txt.html
  • 05/23/98 - Minor revisions to this plan. Posted to Balanone's site.
  • 05/24/98 - Text layout of home page posted.
  • 05/25/98 - Tables layout of home page posted.
  • 05/26/98 - CSS-1 layout of home page provisionally posted (to index.ccs.html).
  • 05/30/98 - New layouts of site map posted to sitemap.???.html; Also minor changes to the link descriptions for the three layouts.
  • 06/03/98 - New layouts of "recent changes" page posted to recent.chgs.???.html.
  • 06/12/98 - Decided that vanilla CSS-1 layout was simply unworkable, but frames with CSS-1 would be workable. Modified this accessiblity plan to indicate this.
  • 06/13/98 - Implemented frames/CSS-1 layout for home page, site map, recent changes. New layouts posted to xeper2.???.html, tosintw1.???.html, tosintw2.???.html, tos.ritmag.???.html.
  • 06/15/98 - New layouts developed for set.rel.???.html, nobility.pb.???.html.
  • 06/20/98 - Decided I liked red better than green -- started changing backgrounds and buttons.
  • 06/25/98 - Implemented new layouts for baltsfaq, baltsref, baltsdif.
  • 06/26/98 - Uploaded revised access_plan, home page, sitemap.
  • 06/27/98 - Uploaded revised FAQ, REF, diff, balfaqts.hrvad, black.magic, bal.guestbook, email.
  • 06/28/98 - Uploaded revised bloodbk, comm.set.plague, lanning.9201.
  • 07/05/98 - Uploaded revised miscdesc, nazitrap, nobility.pb, tosintw1, tosintw2, tos.ritmag, recent.chgs, life, will, geobook, xeper2, set.rel. Corrected bal.guestbook. Added geoguide to multiple pages to prevent GeoCities pop-up advertising. Note: At this time all previously existing pages have gone through a first-level conversion for accessibility.
  • 07/08/98 - Post-revision validation by W3C and Bobby for home page, balfaqts.hrvad, baltsdif.
  • 07/11/98 - Post-revision validation by W3C and Bobby for baltsfaq, baltsref.
  • 07/13/98 - Minor efficiency and presentation improvements to bal.guestbook.html,, baltsfaq.hrvad.html, baltsdif.html, baltsfaq.html.
  • 07/20/98 - Created leavegeo.html (Why Leave Geocities?) because of GeoCities' JavaScript code which causes difficulties for a few browsers and for all readers with JavaScript turned off.
  • 08/01/98 - Decided that a solid button bar at the top of each page looks much better than having spaces between each button. Since each button is large enough that people with motor difficulties should still be able to click on them, and each has a Title for those with other special needs, I feel this is OK even though it doesn't pass CAST/Bobby's criteria. Modified all pages to have a solid button bar at top.
  • 08/10/98 - Modified those with buttons down the left side to also have a solid button bar there. Implemented diputree navigation menu for all frames pages, and diputab navigation tabs for use within FAQ and REF documents.
  • 07/99 - Redesigned and simplified site, as described above. My thanks to Moira of the PWA for her critique and many good suggestions.

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