Guerrilla Accessibility

Posted in Accessibility

I have an interesting couple of projects that I’m working on these days. One project involves creating and giving a presentation on “Web Standards and Accessibility.” The other project involves building HTML templates for a client who is requesting the site be built with nested tables and spacer graphics (no CSS-based layouts, please). In other words, not standards-compliant to a large degree. What an interesting combination of projects! But alas… I’ve come up with a sneaky plan.A good friend of mine told me there’s a Japanese word for this type of activity. It’s called “intoku” and roughly means “doing good secretly.” I think that pretty much describes what I plan to do.At first, I became really frustrated about the strict and out-dated requirements. Then I became downright depressed about the situation. Now, I’m taking it on as an opportunity for personal achievement. If I can’t build a standards-compliant site… at least I can make it as accessible as it can be considering the circumstances. After all, somewhat accessible is more than not at all accessible, right?Screenshot of I3 Forum SiteI’ve decided to adopt Jeffrey Zeldman’s “hybrid table layout” approach, as explained in chapter 8 of his Designing with Web Standards book. The method is nicely demonstrated on the I3 Forum site. In Zeldman’s book, he describes a way of reducing the complexities of deeply nested tables by using separately stacked and uniquely identified tables for things like the body, content, and footer. He then recommends using CSS for the padding and margins in order to reduce the total number of nested tables. This hybrid method requires no spacer graphics.Screenshot of Jim Thatcher's Web Accessibility for Section 508 Tutorials SiteI’m also being very careful to create accessible forms, image alt text, link titles, skip to content links, accessible data tables, etc. I referenced the ever-helpful accessibility tutorials on Jim Thatcher’s site for help with these additions.By the way, the client is planning to integrate my hand-coded HTML templates and CSS files into Macromedia Contribute via Dreamweaver. I haven’t heard too many positive things about Contribute… but, I’m trying to be open-minded.I’ve run into some roadblocks with the CSS padding and margins issue. When I ran several Dreamweaver integration tests earlier in the week, I noticed that the CSS-padded table cells were collapsing. The CSS code was simply being ignored. Apparently Dreamweaver prefers spacer graphics? Maybe I should do some more research before giving up. So many people love Dreamweaver–surely it supports CSS padding in “Live Data” view. Hmm…It might not be my most advanced site to date, but I’m hoping it will be successful in some respects. At the very least, the client will get an accessible site… without even realizing it!