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So I’ll be honest. I am a bit frustrated with the Screen Reader Simulation. Not only was it a pain to download the Shockwave plug-in (I ended up having to do it manually–and it always worries me to have to check my age, like something nasty is going to pop in if I’m over 18), but then my keyboard commands didn’t work. I tried it five or six times. I can understand the frustration blind people have in using programs that aren’t entirely compliant, or that don’t make sense. It’s a whole different experience.
That said, I have come to believe that we can do some very simple things to facilitate accessibility. Mark Pilgrim’s Dive Into Accessibility provided a helpful explanation of several individual disabilities–which made real people from the terms defined by Paul Bohman. Pilgrim lists several things that I think are completely do-able–like adding meaningful metadata, such as additional navigational aids, titles to links, and listing the doctype and language. I do have an issue with his suggestion to NOT force links to open in new windows. I appreciate having a new tab or window so I can easily refer back to my previous page without losing it somewhere in a back button search. I know this documentation was written in 2002, and I wonder if things have changed at all with more current browsers. Perhaps I am now accustomed to Firefox and the various tab features. I’m curious to know how this little rule works these days.
I was also intrigued with the suggestions Pilgrim makes that also benefit Google searches, such as adding meaningful titles to each page and presenting the main content first. I admit it–the Google appeal is great.
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