Maine's CHOICES CEO Project
We have endeavored to create a site that is usable by people regardless of ability or technology. To that end, we have incorporated several accessibility features — summarized in the box to the right and described in detail below — to improve users' experience with the site.
Background on Web Accessibility
On the web, providing accessible content is a common courtesy. For many organizations, though, it is also a legal responsibility.
In the United States, web accessibility is addressed through a number of laws, the most notable being the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998, Section 508. The requirements under Section 508 apply to federally-funded programs and services, including some public institutions of higher education. In addition, many state governments have adopted Section 508 standards.
Beyond U.S. law, the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has adopted a set of accessibility recommendations that are considered to be the international standard for web accessibility.
We have tested this web site for compliance with both Section 508 and WAI, and we continually strive to meet the requirements of both standards. Users who encounter difficulty accessing any of the pages, documents, or other content of this site are encouraged to notify us so that we can provide them the material in an alternate format.
- Semantic Markup
- Coding a web site using semantic markup helps to optimize the content for accessibility. Each content element is marked up with meaningful HTML tags so that it can easily be interpreted by a variety of devices (e.g., web browsers, including text-only browsers; screen readers; mobile devices; etc.).
- Cascading Style Sheets
- The use of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) in the site design allows for the separation of the content of the site from its presentation. Such a design allows content to be accessed regardless of the device used. Though not supported by early generation browsers, CSS allows the designer to optimize the presentation for modern browsers, while allowing it to degrade gracefully in older browsers (e.g., NS 4, IE 4 Win, IE 5 Mac).
- Skip Navigation
- Each page of the CHOICES CEO site features a "Skip Navigation" link to allow users who are accessing the site through a screen reader and keyboard to quickly jump over the navigation list, straight to the main content of the page. The Skip Navigation link is hidden by default; however, by using the "Tab" key to cycle through all links on the site, users will encounter the Skip Navigation link at the beginning of the page. This is useful for those with screen readers who do not always want to hear the entire navigation list upon entry to each page.
- Text Resizing
- Content on the site (excluding image content) is coded to allow the user to re-size it easily, without breaking design elements. Firefox 2 and Internet Explorer 7 users can increase text size by pressing CTRL+ (the "Ctrl" key and the "plus" key together). Doing so several times will allow those users with visual impairments to better see the text content. CTRL- ("Ctrl" key and the "minus" or "dash" key) allows the text to shrink, and CTRL 0 (Ctrl key and the "zero" key) will return to the default text size. Text resizing in Internet Explorer 6 is achieved in the menu by going to "View," then "Text Size," and then choosing a larger or smaller size.
- WebAIM: Web Accessibility in Mind
A comprehensive clearinghouse of accessibility information.
- WebAIM Section 508 Checklist
A handy list of Section 508 standards and guidelines for compliance.
- WebAIM Discussion List
A discussion forum for accessibility issues.
- W3C Quick Tips to Make Accessible Web Sites
From W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative web site.
- Jim Thatcher's Web Accessibility for Section 508 Tutorial
How to check accessibility and make your pages comply with Section 508.
The official Federal government web site.
- Firefox Web Developer Toolbar
Firefox's Web Developer extension is an invaluable set of tools for web developers that includes a Section 508 validator.
- Watchfire WebXACT
WebXACT is an online accessibility validator that checks compliance with the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
Summary of Accessibility Features on this Site
Text size is easily changeable and doing so does not compromise the site design.
Using Firefox 2 and Internet Explorer 7:
- To increase text size: CTRL +
- To decrease text size: CTRL –
- To return to the default size: CTRL 0
Using Internet Explorer 6:
- Go to "View" in the menu bar.
- Choose "Text Size."
- Choose "Larger" or "Smaller"
Cascading Style Sheets
Designing a site with Cascading Style Sheets separates the content from its presentation allowing information to be accessed regardless of the device used.
Each piece of content is marked up with meaningful HTML tags that are easily interpreted by devices such as web browsers (including text-only browsers), screen readers, and mobile devices.
By tabbing through all links on the site, users will encounter the Skip Navigation link at the beginning of the page. This is useful for those with screen readers who do not always want to hear the entire navigation list upon entry to each page.