A Cloak of Accessibility

If you regularly run your browser with JavaScript support disabled like I do, you’ll occasionally run into a Web site that completely fails to operate, especially among so-called Web 2.0 sites.

I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but Twitter.com is not the most accessible site on the Web. I find that somewhat odd, given the relative simplicity of the user interface. This has improved a bit in the 18 months or so that I’ve been using the service, but I wouldn’t say it’s perfect yet. At least the site functionality gracefully degrades when you don’t have JavaScript.

Enter Dennis Embree. Seeing a need, or at least an opportunity, he created a more accessible Web-based Twitter interface: AccessibleTwitter.com

The site contains a short list of some of the things the developers fixed:

  • All links are keyboard accessible.
  • Simple, consistent layout and navigation.
  • Works with or without JavaScript.
  • Large default text size and high color contrast.
  • Looks great in high or low resolution.
  • Forms are marked up for optimal accessibility.
  • Code is semantic, light, and adheres to best practices in Web Standards.

I wonder if there is a niche here for accessibility-aware Web developers: find Web 2.0 sites that brush off demands for accessibility affordances and wrap them in a “cloak of accessibility” spun from their own APIs.

I think this is a really interesting idea. I wonder what other sites could benefit from such a technique?

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