One of the issues raised at the Edinburgh workshop held on May 10th was the accessibility of blogs and the requirements under the UK Disability Discrimination Act. A quick Google search found How to Make Your Blog Accessible to Blind Readers – American Foundation for the Blind. It gives advice on structuring your blog content, for example put all your links and navigation on the right hand side or use ‘skip links/navigation’ in your code. Screen readers read text from left to right and if you look at the code for a two or three column blog you will see that the left hand column text is displayed at the top, then the second and then the third column. Hearing a long list of links even just once before you arrive at the content is likely to annoy users and drive them off your blog for good.
Most of the other tips are good practice for any web or blog design: describe your images, avoid the dreaded “click here” or “more”, use flexible font sizes, don’t force links to open in new windows.
The one on “Choose an accessible service” is low on solid practical advice. They compared two blogging services – Blogger and Bloglines – and I was not surprised to see that neither came out of the tests very well. Other commonly used blogging services such as WordPress, Typepad, Livejournal, Movable Type are notably absent. There is no date on the page apart from a copyright 2007 at the bottom, but a Wayback Machine search revealed that the content had not changed significantly since May 2005.
A search on UK pages came up with the Web Access Centre Blog on the Royal National Institute of the Blind web site. I am not an expert on rigorously testing sites for accessibility, but it passed the basic tools that I have here. According to the acknowledgements at the bottom of the page, their blog uses WordPress.
Please do comment if you have experience in developing “accessible” blogs or can recommend a particular service.
This is an excellent short video explaining what RSS is all about.
“We made this video for our friends (and yours) that haven’t yet felt the power of our friend the RSS reader. We want to convert people… if you know someone who would love RSS and hasn’t yet tried it, point them here for 3.5 minutes of RSS in Plain English.”