Frequently, when discussing accessibility issues with business owners and others, the topic of 508 “automation” comes up. While some automation programs are very good and cover a lot of key points and information, keep in mind these types of programs cannot replicate end users experience precisely, and it is wise to have a 508-professional do “manual” testing; meaning the last test prior to distribution or publication should be done by a human and not an automated program.
There are numerous variable factors when creating 508 compliant material that utilize several presentation methods including videos, audio (podcasts), websites, and downloadable PDF’s, which makes it even more important to do end-user testing.
Below is a list of top ten errors that can occur even with the most advanced high-end 508 automation programs.
1. Errors in the logical structure of the webpage or document. These types of errors will cause screen readers to “jump” over, or miss content all together.
2. Content specific errors. This type of error occurs when information is presented in a table format, which are also quite frequently missing table summaries. Experiencing this type of error in a document or web page can throw the whole page off, and testing will return frequent errors until the correct structure is implemented.
3. Language being utilized needs to be identified-either in the document attributes or as a language attribute on the HTML5 element.
4. Again, in document or page attributes, a title must be identifiable and cannot be left blank. The title is generally information that is included in the header of a document or page. It can be apparent, or hidden; but either way it needs to be included because it defines the purpose of the page!
5. Figures, infographics, photos, and other visuals do not have alternate text. Decorative images such as borders, lines etc. should generally be marked as artifacts. This is especially important with infographics, as the end user will not have access to the information being presented.
6. Ensure the page or document does not have duplicate ID’s with in the attribute portion. This can cause screen reader errors which are very frustrating!
7. Each PDF document page must be tagged individually. Within those tags, markups must include relevant information, logical structure (a.k.a. tag-tree) and relationship to other information within the document.
8. Utilize more specific descriptions when using files that end in .img. These are image files and MUST include alternative descriptions, for example, a company logo maybe was designed and then “grouped” to create on image.
It may include company name and phone number. Providing that information in alternative text will allow the screen reader to in-turn provide the information to the end-user.
9. Ensure any form fields are labeled correctly. For example, a basic name, address, phone number form should have all fillable fields in correct tab order, and labeled so that the end user knows what information to input.
10. Provide alternate descriptions for links and ensure that all links included on your website or document are working. Providing this alternative text will allow the end user to understand they may be taken “off-site” or to another page in the same site for more information.
Whether you choose an automated program or opt to utilize a vendor, there is no better information to have than from actual end-users!
For further information visit our website or contact Dee Moradi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article contributed by: Dee Moradi, 508 Remediation Specialist