An Unfinished Symphony

It's about the internet and stuff.

Accessibility

I'm committed to ensuring that this website is accessible as possible for everyone. If you have any questions or suggestions regarding the accessibility of this site, please contact me, as I will continue to try to improve the experience for all visitors. A summary of the features intended to improve the accessibility of this site follows below.

Accessibility Statement Sections:
Navigation Aids:
  • All pages on this site use a consistent set of primary links to the main sections of the web site.
    • The main menu is at the top of each page and includes links to the about, subscription, archives, contact and external links sections of the site along with a link back to the front page.
    • The page footer contains links to the copyright and privacy policy statements along with a link to the site map and another to this accessibility statement.
    • The sidebar contains links to a number of secondary features including recent and related posts.
  • The sidebar on every page contains a search box for easy searching of the site.
  • At the very top of every page there are links for skipping over the main menu, with an option to jump to either the sidebar or the main content area of the page. At the bottom of every post there is a linked icon of a blue, upwards pointing arrow head which links back to the top of page.
  • Many links have title attributes which describe the link in greater detail, unless the text contained within the link already describes the target (such as the title or headline of an article).
    • Screen reader software can be set to read title attributes out loud, for example in JAWS: Utilities > Configuration Manager > Set Options > HTML Options > Text.
    • Users of graphical web browsers can hover their mouse over links to read the title text, if present.
  • Where possible, links are written to make sense out of context, to allow easier navigation through the site when using screen readers and browsers (such as JAWS, Lynx and Opera) that are able to extract a list of links on a page for browsing separately to the page.
  • All links can be followed in any browser or screen reader, and there are no links that open new windows without warning.
  • Image links make use of the Title attribute to provide a guide to the link target
Section Headings:
  • All sections of this web site contain appropriate headers which follow a logical hierarchy within each page. This makes it easier for users to quickly locate sections with the page and, where their browser or screen reader permits it, to navigate via these headings.
  • Visitors using recent versions of some screen readers can navigate using the following keystrokes:
    • H to cycle forwards through the headings.
    • Shift + H to cycle backwards through the headings.
    • 1 to navigate to the next level 1 heading (or a number between 1 and 6 to navigate to the next heading of that level).
    • Shift + 1 to navigate to the previous level 1 heading (or a number between 1 and 6 to navigate to the previous heading of that level).
    • Insert + F6 to provide a list of all headings on the page.
  • Users of some browsers may also have similar functions available to them. For example, users of Opera can use the following keys to navigate through headings:
    • S to cycle forwards through the headings.
    • W to cycle backwards through the headings.
Keyboard Navigation:
  • All links are usable with either the keyboard or a mouse.
  • There are no javascript based links, and so there is no reliance upon users having a javascript enabled browser.
  • There are no access keys (short cut keys) defined on this site as they are known to clash with those implemented within users' existing software and operating system short cut keys (for example those used to access a browser menu). There may be a time when all browsers in common usage are able to provide a consistent means of navigating web pages via shortcut keys, when that time arises they will be implemented here.
  • Although defining a set Tab order for each page is known to help some users I have refrained from using a defined order on this site (see the note on Tab indexes and keyboard navigation within the Barriers to Accessibility section below). Therefore this site will use the default, linear, Tab order through each page, which follows the following order based on the underlying structure of each page:
    1. The skip links at the top of the page.
    2. Page links in the main menu.
    3. Links and form controls in the main content section of the page.
    4. Links and form controls in the main sidebar (located on the left hand side of the page in graphical browsers). Users wishing to go straight to this section can bypass the main menu and entire content area by using the "skip to sidebar" link at the very top of the page.
    5. Links and form controls in the page footer.
Content Images:
  • All content images used on this site include descriptive Alt attributes. Alt attributes:
    • can be read out by screen readers.
    • are displayed in place of the images when images fail to display for any reason.
    • can be accessed by hovering the mouse over the image in some graphical browsers (for example Internet Explorer 6). Although this is incorrect, and non-standard, behaviour some people find it useful.
  • Users of Mozilla browsers, such as Firefox, that wish to see the alternative text even when the image displays can download an extension which will allow them to view Alt attributes when hovering the mouse over images, in the same way as happens within Internet Explorer – for example Popup ALT Attribute will work with Firefox version 1.5 and below and Handy Xtra Stuff will work with Firefox version 2+.
  • There are no decorative images contained within the content, instead these are separated into the external CSS, therefore there are no empty Alt attributes.
Text Size:
  • This site uses relative units, for setting the size of text, which allows the size of text to be easily adjusted by visitors.
  • The following table provides a guide on resizing text in some of the most common browsers:
    Text resizing features in common browsers (2006)
    Browser Menu Items Windows Shortcut Macintosh Shortcut
    Internet Explorer View > Text Size > Largest N/A N/A
    Firefox, Mozilla, Netscape View > Text Size > Increase Ctrl ++ Command +
    Opera View > Zoom > % + or 0 Command +
    Safari View > Make Text Bigger N/A Command +
Text and Link Colours:
  • I've endeavoured to ensure that there is sufficient contrast between the text (including link colours) and background colours used on this site and have tested them to ensure that they meet a baseline level.
  • Users that need greater colour contrast can adjust their colour settings within their browser's settings, below is a guide to doing this on some of the most common browsers:
    Text, link and background colour adjustment options in common browsers
    Browser Menu Items (Windows) Menu Items (Macintosh)
    Firefox Tools > Options > Content > Colors Firefox > Preferences > General > Fonts & Colors
    Opera Tools > Preferences > Web Pages Opera > Preferences > Fonts and Page Style
    Internet Explorer Tools > Internet Options > Colors N/A
Abbreviations and Acronyms:
  • Abbreviations and acronyms located in the main interface components of the site (such as the navigation menus located in the sidebars) have been coded to allow users to check their meanings.
    • Current versions of most screen readers should read out the expanded meaning of these abbreviations and acronyms, either by default or by adjusting a user setting. JAWS for Windows, for example, allows the expansion of abbreviations and acronyms when the "Expand Abbreviations" and "Expand Acronyms" check boxes are selected – these are located within the Configuration Manager under Utilities > Configuration Manager > Set Options > HTML Options > Text.
    • Users of most graphical browsers should be able to view an expanded version of these acronyms and abbreviations by moving their mouse over them. Abbreviations and acronyms that allow this will be identified by a dotted underlining in most browsers – including Firefox, Opera, Mozilla and Safari. This is also possible in Internet Explorer, however due to poor standards support this feature has required javascript to force the correct behaviour in some versions of this browser (version 6 and below), if you are using one of these versions you will need to enable javascript for this feature to work.
    • Firefox users can download a Glossary of Terms extension, from Juicy Studio, which will expand properly coded abbreviations and acronyms into a glossary of terms for easier use.
  • Abbreviations and acronyms located within user submitted content, such as comments, may not be coded to allow for expansion as outlined above. Please see the note on abbreviations and acronyms in the barriers to accessibility section below.
Forms and Form Controls
  • Form controls (such as input boxes) have an associated label which identifies the purpose of the control. Users can click on the labels to focus the cursor on the associated form control.
Visual Design:
  • This site has been coded and designed to be accessible as possible, and uses cascading style sheets for the visual layout throughout.
  • Users of browsers and devices that do not support style sheets will still be able to read and use the content of each page. There are some features, as outlined above, that will make this easier.
  • Some users may wish to view this site with CSS turned off:
    • To disable style sheets in Firefox, go to: View > Page Style > No Style.
    • To disable style sheets in Opera go to: View > Style > User Mode
  • If they have some knowledge of CSS, users may wish to create their own style sheet to use in place of the one used on this site.
    • To link to a user stylesheet in Opera go to: Tools > Preferences > Advanced > Style Options > Display > My style sheet
    • To link to a user style sheet in Internet Explorer go to: Tools > Internet Options > Accessibility > Format documents using my style sheet
    • There's a comprehensive guide to using a user defined stylesheet in Firefox available at the Mozillazine Knowledge Base. An alternative to the standard method of creating a user style sheet for Firefox is to use the Stylish extension which provides an easy to use interface for customising style sheets, either for individual sites or for all sites.
Accessibility Barriers
  • As previously mentioned, this site doesn't include either access keys or a Tab index. This was a conscious decision due to the prospect of their making the site less accessible, rather than more.
    • Author defined access keys have been demonstrated to clash with most existing software and operating system (OS) systems of providing keyboard shortcuts, whereby author defined keystroke combinations prevent keyboard shortcut access to features contained within the being software used, and in some cases other software that is running concurrently with the browser.
    • A predefined Tab order has been omitted due to the prospect of a confusing, illogical or irrelevant order being created – this is a dynamic, database driven, web site that utilises a set of templates to specify the primary, and repeated, components of the site. If a Tab order was set on the template it would either mean that the order set would bypass any links found within the contributed content, making the order illogical and unhelpful, or it would require guesses to be made on where to stop, and restart, the order for the repeated content. Although less than ideal, I felt that the safest option was to leave this feature out.
Conformance Statement
  • This web site has been developed using current standards, utilising XHTML 1.0 strict and CSS level 2.1, and was tested for validity at the time of going live. Whilst the template system should remain standards compliant, I cannot guarantee that invalid code won't appear within contributed content and would appreciate being informed of instances where invalid markup affects the usability and accessibility of this site.
  • As mentioned previously, I have endeavoured to ensure that this site is as usable and accessible to as wide an audience as possible, as such I've aimed for a minimum conformance to Level Double-A of the WCAG 1.0. I have, however, tried to exceed this level of conformance wherever possible. Once again, if any error or omission has been made with regards to achieving the stated levels of accessibility, or if there are methods that can be used to further enhance the accessibility of this site, I would be very grateful to hear about them.
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