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Web accessibility: An editor’s guide

By Ambrose Li

Web accessibility: An editor’s guide

Is web accessibility for people with disabilities the responsibility of just web designers, web developers, or accessibility consultants? Editors Toronto certainly disagrees, or it wouldn’t have organized a seminar on web accessibility standards last November. But what if you missed that seminar?

Web accessibility in a nutshell

Ontario’s web accessibility standard is based on Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. It consists of four principles divided into 12 guidelines that together form the basis of more than 60 success criteria and over 400 techniques; it deals with not only web pages but also other kinds of content posted online, including PDFs. Its official guide, at 262 letter-sized pages, is more than five times longer than the standard itself.

This sounds intimidating, but the four principles of accessibility (perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust) and 12 guidelines that underpin the WCAG standard are surprisingly simple. And, as an editor, only two of those guidelines should catch your attention: readable and navigable. Readability is clearly the job of all editors, and navigability—organizing the site so that readers can easily glean its structure and find their way around—is central to what substantive editors do. Even when acting within traditional editorial roles, we are already qualified to meaningfully contribute to a site’s accessibility. (more…)