In just over a decade, the Web has evolved from an experimental tool for a limited community of technically inclined people into a day-to-day necessity for millions upon millions of users. Today''s Web designers must consider not only the content needs of the sites they create, but also the wide range of additional needs their users may have: for example, those with physical or cognitive disabilities, those with slow modems or small screens, and those with limited education or familiarity with the Web.
Bestselling author Sarah Horton argues that simply meeting the official standards and guidelines for Web accessibility is not enough. Her goal is universal usability, and in Access by Design: A Guide to Universal Usability for Web Designers, Sarah describes a design methodology that addresses accessibility requirements but then goes beyond. As a result, designers learn how to optimize page designs to work more effectively for more users, disabled or not. Working through each of the main functional features of Web sites, she provides clear principles for using HTML and CSS to deal with elements such as text, forms, images, and tables, illustrating each with an example drawn from the real world. Through these guidelines, Sarah makes a convincing case that good design principles benefit all users of the Web.
Review By: Noreen Dertinger 06/17/2010This is a book for Web designers, explaining how to optimize Web pages to make them more accessible to a diverse audience, which includes the aged and handicapped. An increasing number of public organizations and private businesses are striving to make their Web sites and applications adhere to these guidelines on a voluntary basis as this issue of accessibility has become increasingly important in recent years.
"Access by Design" is presented in a clear and logical manner. Author Sarah Horton outlines the guidelines for improving the functionality and accessibility of the main elements found in Web pages—text, form images, tables, frames, color, links, interactivity, and page layout—with a chapter dedicated to each. She introduces each element and provides a detailed explanation of how it is used. She then explains how to improve usability and accessibility, with clear and concise details of what works and what does not. Color illustrations are used liberally to illustrate the main points. The explanations are not overdone, and the book is concise; it could even be used as a design style guide. I usually don't recommend beginning a book at the end, but this appendix serves as a useful starting point to quickly gain an overview of the main issues.
The title of Horton's book grabbed my attention as a Web page developer and software tester. While testing Web applications is not exactly the same as testing Web pages, there is some overlap. Horton's book provided great insight.
When it comes to developing and testing Web pages for universal accessibility, a tester should be aware of what to look for and be able to derive test cases to ensure that the Web developers have adhered to principles of user-friendly design. A good design should make a Web page inviting and easily accessible for all, including features such as compatibility with screen readers and other devices used by the disabled and those with special needs.