A List Apart


Topic: Accessibility

Tips on making your site available to every person and every device: from networked gadgets to screen readers, desktop browsers to web-enabled TVs. ARIA and progressive enhancement. Contrast is king. The accessibility of WAI-ARIA. Deafness and the user experience. The inclusion principle. Accessibility via web standards. WAI in on WCAG.

  • Designing Safer Web Animation For Motion Sensitivity

    by Val Head · Issue


    · Issue 428 ·

    For millions of people with vertigo and inner ear problems, large-scale web animations can trigger nausea, migraines, and dizziness. To make websites accessible for everyone, we don’t need to eliminate animation; we need to apply it more thoughtfully. Val Head walks us through some of the challenges posed by vestibular disorders and provides guidelines for designing with motion sensitivity in mind.

  • 2015 Summer Reading Issue

    by ALA Staff · Issue 425 ·

    The dog days are upon us—but instead of giving up in the summer swelter, take heart! We’ve got an extra-special reading list of bright, insightful brainfood. ALA’s third annual summer reader explores what's been on the web industry’s mind lately, from accessibility to performance, from CSS techniques to web type, from mentorship to more collaborative approaches. It’s a list as cool and fancy as a watermelon-basil popsicle. Yeah, that does sound good, doesn’t it? Kick back, chill out, and get to reading.

  • WAI-finding with ARIA Landmark Roles

    by Lyza Danger Gardner ·

    Between the intricacies of documentation and the risk of wielding too much power over the browser, WAI-ARIA can be daunting. For the dev uncertain on how to fold accessibility best practices into their daily workflow, Lyza Gardner sets out to summarize one category of roles—the landmark roles. They help user agents map out the territories on a page so the user can navigate them with greater ease, and they’re a great place to start getting familiar with ARIA’s part in assistive technology.

  • Pluralization for JavaScript

    by Tingan Ho · Issue 416 ·

    Getting plurals right in localization is a tricky prospect—each language has its own rules, and exceptions within those rules. How can we scale our websites and apps to respond to our global audience? Tingan Ho shows us how MessageFormat lessens some common pain points in the pluralization process.

  • Reframing Accessibility for the Web

    by Anne Gibson · Issue 413 ·

    If you’ve been treating “people with disabilities” as an edge case for your websites, consider this a reckoning. Web accessibility means that everyone can use the web. The job of a web designer isn’t to question the configurations, devices, and tools that users bring to the table; it’s to rise to the challenge of making a site work for anyone who wishes to use it. Anne Gibson makes the case for site testing, inclusivity, and a better way of thinking about people online.

  • Accessibility: The Missing Ingredient

    by Andrew Hoffman · Issue 395 ·

    If economics is “the dismal science,” accessibility has long been the least loved branch of web design and development—and the least specified client requirement. Type and grids (especially the flexible variety) have fans aplenty. CSS, Sass, and frameworks draw huge, passionate crowds. But even die-hard front-enders and dedicated followers of best practices seem to wilt in the face of today's greatly improved accessibility techniques. As a result, while most of us have kept up with the emerging methods, technologies, and challenges of multi-device design and development, essential and well supported specs like WAI-ARIA remain woefully under-implemented. Even the best of us seem to consider accessibility something to be done at the end of the job. Andrew Hoffman explains the advantages and necessity of an “accessibility first” approach.

  • Does Our Industry Have a Drinking Problem?

    by Rachel Andrew ·

    The social events surrounding conferences are an integral part of the experience—and they mostly involve getting together over drinks. But as the industry becomes more inclusive, we gain more people for whom drinking isn’t a good option. It's time to add more ways to party and meet up that give us a chance to network with all of our peers—and maybe even leave us feeling up for that second-day morning workshop.

  • Flat UI and Forms

    by Jessica Enders · Issue 384 ·

    Though some decry flat user interfaces as pure fashion, or as the obvious response to skeuomorphic trends, many designers have embraced the flat approach because the reduction in visual styling (such as gradients, drop shadows, and borders) creates interfaces that feel simpler and cleaner. Trouble is, most flat UIs are built with a focus on the provision of content, with transactional components (i.e., forms) receiving very little attention. So what happens when flat UIs and forms collide? User experiences can, and often do, suffer. Keep your flat forms from failing by using controlled redundancy to communicate difference.

  • Translation is UX

    by Antoine Lefeuvre · Issue 366 ·

    We—the people who make websites—now study almost every aspect of our trade, from content and usability to art direction and typography. Our attention to detail has never been greater as we strive to provide the best possible experience. Yet many users still experience products that lack personality or are difficult to understand. They are users of a translated version. While good localization boosts conversion rates, bad or partial translation may ruin a user experience, giving people an uneasy feeling about the whole company. If we care equally about all our users, it’s time we start thinking of translation as something slightly more complex than a word-to-word job. Antoine Lefeuvre shares why translation matters, and what it takes to get it right.

  • Uncle Sam Wants You (to Optimize Your Content for Mobile)

    by Karen McGrane · Issue 364 ·

    Thirty-one percent of Americans who access the internet from a mobile device say that’s the way they always or mostly go online. For this group, if your content doesn’t exist on mobile, it doesn’t exist at all. The U.S. government has responded with a broad initiative to make federal website content mobile-friendly. Karen McGrane explains why this matters—and what you can learn from it.

  • The Accessibility of WAI-ARIA

    by Detlev Fischer · Issue 319 ·

    Web developers interested in accessibility issues often look to WAI-ARIA to bridge the accessibility gap created by ubiquitous scripting and make web applications more accessible to blind and visually impaired users. But can we recommend WAI-ARIA without reservation? Are there times when appropriate semantic HTML elements are preferable to custom widgets?

  • ARIA and Progressive Enhancement

    by Derek Featherstone · Issue 319 ·

    For seven years, progressive enhancement has been how we build sustainable, interoperable, and accessible web solutions. Now that the release of ARIA is approaching, let's see how ARIA fits within progressive enhancement strategy. Can we use ARIA in a way that respects progressive enhancement? Can we use ARIA in ways that ensure we have a working solution at every level?

  • Contrast is King

    by Leslie Jensen-Inman · Issue 303 ·

    Being colorblind doesn’t mean not seeing color. It means seeing it differently. If colorblindness challenges the colorblind, it also challenges designers. Some of us think designing sites that are colorblind-friendly means sticking with black and white, or close to it. But the opposite is true. Using contrast effectively not only differentiates our site’s design from others, it’s the essential ingredient that can make our content accessible to every viewer, including the colorblind. By understanding contrast, we can create websites that unabashedly revel in color.

  • Accent Folding for Auto-Complete

    by Carlos Bueno · Issue 301 ·

    Another generation of technology has passed and Unicode support is almost everywhere. The next step is to write software that is not just "internationalized" but truly multilingual. In this article we will skip through a bit of history and theory, then illustrate a neat hack called accent-folding. Accent-folding has its limitations but it can help make some important yet overlooked user interactions work better.

  • The Inclusion Principle

    by Margit Link-Rodrigue · Issue 288 ·

    To make accessible design an organic element of front-end development, we must free our thinking from the constraints we associate with accessible design and embrace the inclusion principle. Margit Link-Rodrigue tells us how.

  • This is How the Web Gets Regulated

    by Joe Clark · Issue 272 ·

    As in finance, so on the web: self-regulation has failed. Nearly ten years after specifications first required it, video captioning can barely be said to exist on the web. The big players, while swollen with self-congratulation, are technically incompetent, and nobody else is even trying. So what will it take to support the human and legal rights of hearing impaired web users? It just might take the law, says Joe Clark.

  • Deafness and the User Experience

    by Lisa Herrod · Issue 265 ·

    Because of limited awareness around Deafness and accessibility in the web community, it seems plausible to many of us that good captioning will fix it all. It won’t. Before we can enhance the user experience for all deaf people, we must understand that the needs of deaf, hard of hearing, and big-D Deaf users are often very different.

  • Testability Costs Too Much

    by Gian Sampson-Wild · Issue 240 ·

    Testability: friend or foe? Gian Sampson-Wild takes a close look at one of the features of the new Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

  • Accessible Data Visualization with Web Standards

    by Wilson Miner · Issue 256 ·

    When designing interfaces for browsing data-driven sites, creating navigation elements that are also visualization tools helps the user make better decisions. Wilson Miner demonstrates three techniques for incorporating data visualization into standards-based navigation patterns.

  • Findability, Orphan of the Web Design Industry

    by Aarron Walter · Issue 255 ·

    Findability is to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as "web standards" is to "table layouts." In a web whose vastness exceeds comprehension, sites with findable content win. The good news is that everyone on your team can help make your site findable. Get a taste for this essential discipline from Aarron Walter, author of Building Findable Websites: Web Standards, SEO, and Beyond.