While poking around the world wide web, I came across several sites that will help you improve accessability to your site, both in terms of proper HTML coding and in making sure that it is readable by text-to-speech and text-to-braille programs and by the Lynx text-based browser.
The most interesting of these is CAST's Bobby. Named for the British policeman (a "bobby"), the Center for Applied Special Technology Bobby will check your web page for the above conditions. It actually re-displays the page you give it, and inserts markers to highlight where a potential problem is. You click on that marker, and it jumps to an explanation.
Other things that these places talked about was how slow pages displayed because of over-use of graphics, animated graphics and image maps. On many sites, you can't turn off graphic loading because there isn't an ALTernate tag to describe the pictures, or they use image maps for navigating around their site. I don't know how much time I've wasted because I had to wait for those last few bytes of a picture to come in before my browser would let me do anything on the page. I don't have a T1 line connected to my home, folks.
Don't tell me that I have to have a specific browser to view your page, either. One place called that "arguing with your customer". In business, if you argue with a customer, you might win the argument, but you will almost always lose their business. Since people talk, especially here on the Internet, you probably lost more than just one sale.
Same goes with telling me "you don't have frames--you better get (insert browser here)". If I can't get at your information easily and quickly, why should I visit your page?
Related note on frames: This site will NOT use frames. I have come across so many sites that do not release control over the layout of the interior of your web browser window, and so you wind up with frames inside of frames inside of frames, or worse yet, a completely new site that appears to be part of the previous site, so if you try to bookmark the new site, you actually get the old site. Plus, frames are SLOW.
Now, having said that, here's my pledge to you:
"As a bandwidth-friendly site, I will not interfere with your ability to view its content, nor will I cause you unnecessary delays. View this site on any computer you choose, with any program you choose. Browser-specific commands will not be used until they are made an official part of the HTML specification. Graphics herein will be used with restraint and will be kept small in size for quick downloading, with thumbnail pictures used when appropriate."
Permission is hereby given to use that pledge on your own site. -- Roger J. Long, June 8th, 1997
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