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Part: II Designing and Building > Accessibility Basics

Chapter Fourteen. Accessibility Basics

Accessibility and standards have much in common. They are both about ensuring that our work will be useable and available to the largest possible number of readers, visitors, and customers. Accessibility is so closely linked to the other standards discussed in this book that in the 1990s, the W3C launched a Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) to advise web builders on strategies for achieving it (http://www.w3.org/WAI/GL/).

WAI offers three standardized levels of access, from the readily achieved (Priority 1), to one that requires slightly more work (Priority 2), to a master level (Priority 3). The point of the three levels is that accessibility, like the other forms of standards compliance discussed in this book, is a continuum rather than an “all or nothing” affair. Even if we are unready to convert to CSS layout, we can forward-proof our sites and comply with standards using the hybrid methods shown in Chapters 8, “XHTML by Example: A Hybrid Layout (Part I),” 9, “CSS Basics,” and 10, “CSS in Action: A Hybrid Layout (Part II).” So too, with a small and reasonable effort, any of us—even those who are new to accessibility—can attain Priority 1 conformance or something close to it. In so doing, we'll begin making our sites available to those whom we had previously locked out.


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