RampWEB, a web and software accessibility company

Web Standards

...the Cornerstone of Accessibility

To design accessible web sites you need to comply with standards. These standards ensure that your web pages can be accessed not only by typical web browsers but also by other types of compliant browsers or tools, including screen readers and other assistive devices.

The first step in creating accessible Web sites is to have valid HTML and CSS.

MarkUp Standards

The development guidelines specify exactly how the underlying code is to be used. They establish a benchmark not only for developers and content authors, but also for manufacturers enhancing their browsers.

In order for your site to be accessible with current assistive technology, you should develop your Web pages to comply with HTML 4.01 or XHTML 1.0. RampWEB recommends separation of content and presentation while encouraging the use of semantic markup. This will make it easier for those with disabilities to understand your Web site.

HTML 4.01

It has been a stable and robust authoring mark-up language since December 1999.

XHTML 1.0

It is a stable authoring markup language since August 2002 and is a form of XML.

HTML Validation

HTML and code validation is important because errors can greatly impact the accessibility of your site. RampWeb uses code validation programs to catch any markup problems that caused by programmer error or unfamiliarity with the specification. These programs are also available for do-it-yourself validation.
When checking your Web page make sure that you check both the markup HTML code and the CSS for errors. It is also important to pay attention to warnings. Unless you have a very good reason not to fix warnings make sure to remove them and any errors to avoid future problems.

Tips for creating standards-compliant Web pages:

  • Include doctype on every page.
  • Declare the language used.
  • Declare any changes in languages within the Web page.
  • Make sure to close all tags.
  • Enclose all tag attributes in quotation marks.
  • Put the height and width on all images and specify alt text.
  • Ensure all tags are correctly nested.
  • Do not use deprecated tags (font, center, i, etc).
  • Delete phantom attributes such as <b></b>.
  • Use tags for their intended purpose, not for formatting.
  • Make sure all links work.

Valid code is an important foundation for accessibility, but valid HTML and CSS alone do not make your site accessible. This level of accessibility can not be achieved automatically. It requires human analysis and intervention.

Making your Web site comply with standards will not only make it appear and function better, but will also make it less susceptible to problems as browser features and operation change. Browser manufacturers can be expected to comply with existing and evolving standards. Adhering to standards today will make life easier for you and your users both today and tomorrow.