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Chapter 13. Accessibility, International... > General Accessibility Features of SV...

General Accessibility Features of SVG

There is a very useful accessibility feature inherent in SVG—it's scalable. Being able to zoom in and out of an image means that someone with limited vision can blow up a part of an image to get a better view. This feature is, however, only the tip of the iceberg. The more ways in which data can be represented, the more ways in which information can be communicated. SVG can be used to present static graphics, text, sound, and animation—and this is only the front end of the technology. Underneath we have XML, the DOM, and programming language support. For communication, the limiting factor with SVG is now the developer's imagination. In this book, the limiting factor is page count, so in this chapter, we will look only at the relatively low-level features of SVG that enhance accessibility.

No Viewer, No Comment?

One fundamental problem with discussing SVG as an aid to accessibility is that this technology is only beginning to receive widespread adoption. If a user doesn't have a suitable viewer, graphic SVG information is essentially inaccessible. Additionally, some browsers and browsing tools (such as screen readers) by design don't support graphics. This is really the worst-case scenario. After all, text is one of the three basic graphic objects (along with shape and image), so at least this information can be presented more or less directly on a screen reader. Additionally, XML is intended to be reasonably human-readable, and it may be appropriate sometimes to present SVG as plain text. However, lack of a dedicated SVG viewer is often an issue, so we need to repeat the accessibility mantra: “Provide a text alternative.”


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