with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Accessibility

This is the official accessibility statement for Taking Your Camera on the Road. It is our policy to make our site as “accessible” as possible, not just for our physically challenged users, but to make this site accessible via cell phones, hand held computers, all different kinds of Internet browsers, and readable from whatever country you are in. The following lists the specifics of our Accessibility Policy. If you have any questions or comments, please email us at lorelle@cameraontheroad.com.

Access keys

All links on our pages can be accessed by the TAB key in order of importance Access keys use a combination of ALT or CNTRL with the access key letter or number which connects the user to each critical link and aspect of the page. Our website access keys are:

0 – Accessibility Policy and Keys
1 – Home Page
3 – Site Map
4 – Search
5 – About Us
7 – Contact Us
8 – Legal Info
A – Blog – Journal
B – Bookstore
C – Copyright
E – Web Page Design
R – Reprint

To use these access keys, we’ve included instructions for the most popular Internet browser software:

Microsoft Internet Explorer v5 and above
Hold down ALT and tap the letter or number, release, then press the ENTER key
Microsoft Internet Explorer v4
Hold down ALT and tap the letter or number.
Macintosh
Hold down CONTROL + an access key.
Netscape v6 or above
Hold down ALT and tap the letter or number.
Opera, Netscape before v6 and Internet Explorer before v4
Accessibility initiative not supported. Netscape is out of business and future versions of Opera expected to comply.
The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.
Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web

Benefits of an Accessible Website Design

  • Web pages can be read by any browser software.
  • Web pages can be read by any computer operating system.
  • Web pages can be read by international and foreign language-enabled computers.
  • Visually impaired (blind) people can “read” a web page through a verbal reading program.
  • Visually impaired people can “read” a web page through the use of relative font sizes.
  • Search engines love accessible and well-coded web pages.
  • Style sheets (CSS) provide access for different media types (handheld, cell phones, Web TV, etc.)
  • Avoid lawsuits and fines – Many government’s are requiring large company websites to be accessible by law.
  • Faster web page loading times.
  • Visitors are more likely to return because the page is easy to use and view.

Standards Compliance

Compliance with web page standards for HMTL, CSS, and Accessibility is a combination of passing the “tests” set by the compliance organizations, and using our own judgement to manually inspect our design and code to see if it meets compliance standards. We’ve done our best and our pages pass the following tests.

[Note: Since joining the Amazon Associates program to sell books on our website, the Amazon.com code does not meet most compliance standards, therefore they result in errors. We are hoping Amazon will change their policy soon to become compliant.]

Accessibility Features

For your information, we’ve provided the following information on our Accessibility features.

Navigation Aids

Every link on our page is accessible by sequential TABS throughout the document. All priority links and sections are accessible through the Access Keys developed as standards by the UK Government.

Access Key Our Site UK Government
0 Accessibility Policy and Keys Access Keys
1 Home Page Home Page
2 What’s New What’s New
3 Site Map Site Map
4 Search Search
5 About Us FAQ
6 Help – About This Site Help
7 Contact Us Complaints
8 Legal Info Terms and Conditions
9 Talk Back to Us Feedback
S Skip Naviation Skip Navigation
A Weblog – Journal
B Bookstore
D Web Page Design

Links

When applicable, every link features a title attribute with a description of the link’s purpose. Links, when possible, are highlighted in such a way as to make sense, often incorporating a phrase. Links which open a new window are marked with a dotted underline and should state that they are an external link in the balloon description as a double warning that a new window will open when clicked.

Initiating the opening of new windows from within a link is generally frowned upon with the accessibility community, but it is not a strict standard. After much debate and research, we have chosen to have most of our external links open in a new window for the following reason: With almost 500 web pages covering 10 different topics, and more than 2000 external links, keeping a “placeholder” open window of our web page to return to, if desired, made more sense than relying upon people to click back many pages to our page to continue reading the material after visiting the link. Our users have told us that they appreciate this and that it makes it easier for them to keep track and return to the material. We may reconsider this in the future as more people become skilled in using the BACK, FORWARD and HISTORY buttons on their browser.

Images

All graphic images and photographs include descriptive references to help the viewer “see” the image, when appropriate. Most photographs within our website are used as part of the instruction found within the text and therefore are visually explained there as well. Graphic images which do not “add” to the content or value of the web page are not described, making the content easier to read with web page reader software and in an unformatted presentation (without the presentation style sheets).

Visual design

Our website uses Cascading Style Sheets for visual layout and design. We only use relative font sizes, compatible with the user-specified “text size” option in the users’ visual browsers or through their accessibility features of their operating system or web browser. If your web browser or device does not support style sheets, the content of each page within our site is still easily readable.

The Story Behind Accessibility

More and more communities are installing wheel chair ramps on sidewalks and buildings. Television now offers captioning for the hearing impaired and verbal captioning for some television programs for the visually impaired. Braille can be found on many of the world’s elevators and office building signs. We do so much in the world to make sure that everyone can access the day-to-day actions of their lives, yet why should the World Wide Web be any different.

It isn’t. Since the Internet and WWW is not a single government body with a single ruler, individuals and individual nations are tackling the issues of making the web accessible to everyone. In the United Kingdom, the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) initiated the 1999 Disability Discrimination Act which includes guidelines and specifications for access to web pages by the disabled. In the United States, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires access to electronic and information technology like web pages. Let’s look at what these standards and compliance really mean.

What is Access?

Accessibility tends to be stereotyped as providing access to the handicapped, disabled, physically challenged, or whatever politically correct term that implies “not fully functional”. Laws are in place in many countries which require web pages to meet their accessibility laws and to not discriminate. But this is only the tip of the access iceberg when it comes to accessibility in web pages.

Yes, it is important that web pages be designed and coded in such a way as to allow web page readers (verbal) to read the content with ease. Every graphic and photograph should have a description to help those who can’t see the picture to “hear” the picture. It is critical that every page be designed to accommodate relative font sizes so the fonts can be larger or smaller, meeting the needs of the user and not be forced upon the user by the designer. This isn’t just for the disabled but for the growing population of older adults whose eyes need the larger font sizes. Colors are important and should be chosen to help the large percentage of men who are color blind as well as for those suffering from other color-associatative problems.

Yet it is equally important that everyone can view your pages. And who is everyone? Users of web browsers such as Microsoft Internet Explorer, Netscape, Opera, Safari, and others all must be able to “view” your site, supposedly as the designer designed it. But they don’t. Different browsers interpret the code in different ways, resulting in odd behavior or distorted content. So web pages should be designed to work with these different “interpretations” so everyone can read every web page.

What about viewing web pages on different computer operating systems? Not everyone uses Microsoft Windows, and even among those who do, there are quite a few different versions of Windows out there, and each has their version of Internet Explorer. Users of Mac, Linux, and other operating systems and browsers still have to be able to view web pages, so a designer has to design for them, too.

What about viewers of web pages on cell phones, handheld computers, projectors, Web TV, miniature laptops, or the numerous high tech equipment coming out all the time? A web page needs to be viewable, or accessible, to myriad ever-changing and evolving equipment.

Let’s not forget international users. While English is the majority for web pages’ language, estimates are that English will soon drop into the minority as more and more international language web pages will flood the web over the next ten years. Even if your web page is in English, can someone using a Hebrew-enabled or Arabic-enabled version of Windows read your web page without major distortion? What about someone from Russia, China, or Japan? As more and more international users want access to web pages, making them internationally accessible becomes ever more important.

So access isn’t just for the physically challenged. It is for everyone. If you want your web page seen, it has to be accessible. To be accessible, it has to meet the standards of compliance set up by the standards organizations for web design.

Accessibility References

For more information on designing web pages with accessibility standards and compliance, we have a series of articles on web design and web page validation to help you. The list below is just a few of the most important websites offering information, instruction, and guidelines for accessibility compliance:

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  • […] Lorelle says on her Accessibility page, “It is our policy to make our site as ‘accessible’ as possible, not just for our physically challenged users, but to make this site accessible via cell phones, hand held computers, all different kinds of Internet browsers, and readable from whatever country you are in.” […]

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