Book Excerpt: Drupal User's Guide: Building and Administering a Successful Drupal-Powered Web Site

Provide Help

Provide clear instructions to help users complete forms without error on their first attempt. Clearly explain what exists on the other side of a link. Don’t make people guess what a ducky icon means on your site. Make people feel smart, not stupid, when they use your site. Test your site with friends and colleagues. Ask them where you could have made things a little clearer. If it makes sense, include a “help” area that answers commonly asked questions and tours people through each of the features of your site.

Testing Your Site

There are a lot of ways to test your site for accessibility. One of the easiest tricks you’ll need up your sleeve is a simple one. In your Web browser, disable the CSS and the images and try navigating around your Web site. It won’t find all the problems, but it will often find quite a few.

Text-Only Browsers

Computer-aided browsing (Refreshable Braille Display, screen readers) can deal only with text. They can’t create meaning that isn’t there. They won’t describe a picture to you, and they certainly can’t perform mouse actions that are used as JavaScript triggers, because there is no mouse. Use a text-only browser to test your site. Figure 17.3 shows the home page of a Drupal 7 site in Links, a text-only browser. If you can use the Web site, chances are good that it will be usable by folks who can’t see your Web page.

Figure 17.3
Drupal sites appear as a linear page of text when viewed in Links. Note the accessibility enhancement “Skip to main content” link at the top of the page.

Text-only browsers are available online from http://www.delorie.com/web/lynxview.html and http://www.standards-schmandards.com/projects/fangs/.

You can simulate a text-only browser by using the Web Developer Toolbar plug-in for Firefox. Once it’s installed, use the Web Developer toolbar to disable CSS and JavaScript and turn off images. With CSS and JavaScript disabled, try browsing your Web site and see whether you can still find information and buy products.

Automated Testing Tools

After creating, or updating, Web pages, immediately check to see the page is using valid HTML markup and complies with your site’s accessibility standard. Retrofitting a site will take a lot longer than ensuring only accessible pages are produced in the first place. The tools for checking Web sites for accessibility guidelines will typically return either a summary table of errors that were found or an overlay of your site showing you exactly where the errors are. Figure 17.4 shows a WAVE report for Drupal.org reporting no errors. Figure 17.5 shows the same report run on Microsoft.com with a few minor errors. Figure 17.6 shows a second automated test for Drupal.org

Figure 17.4
Drupal.org passes the WAVE automated accessibility test.

Figure 17.5
Microsoft.com fails the WAVE automated accessibility test with four very minor errors.

Figure 17.6
Drupal.org fails the WCAG 1.0, priority level 2, automated test using Truwex online.

Browser-based tools will perform checks of the page you are currently viewing. Figure 17.7 shows the pop-up window summary of the accessibility errors from one Web site, and Figure 17.8 shows the “summary” with additional information about the accessibility errors on this page.

Figure 17.7
Firefox Accessibility Extension provides on-page summaries of potential accessibility problems.

Figure 17.8
A detailed summary of the accessibility problems is also available from the Firefox Accessibility Extension.

This excerpt is from the book, 'Drupal User's Guide: Building and Administering A Successful Drupal-Powered Web Site' by Emma Jane Hogbin, published by Pearson/Prentice Hall Professional, published Sept. 2011, ISBN 0137041292, Copyright 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. For more info, please visit the publisher site: www.informit.com/title/0137041292


© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

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Thanks for posting this.

R. Cole's picture

I am a partially blind Linux user, and what minimal vision I have *could* possibly fade away in the future. Sadly, in many places I have seen anger directed toward individuals with disabilities when the subject of accessibility arises (there were some particularly harsh words typed by people on different Web sites when blind individuals simply asked if they would be able to use the iPhone).

I think that accessibility is very important--not just for blind individuals, but for other disabled computer users as well. I have a hard road ahead of me as I want to pursue a career in the IT field, and accessible content will make the achieving of this goal much easier for myself as well as for others. The task of proving to certain employers that a blind person is capable of doing something will be difficult enough. :)

I am just grateful for all of the strides taken in the Linux world toward accessibility I am able to use Linux for everything!

Thanks for this post, and keep up the great work.

thanks for this notice

Sedot WC's picture

I really like the drupal platform,
thanks for this notice

What about SEO?

ClickMinded SEO Training's picture

Loved the post, lots of really good content. I'm particularly happy that you mentioned something I tell people to do all the time: READ YOUR CONTENT OUT LOUD BEFORE PUBLISHING! You would be amazed at how often this will catch the lionshare of mistakes you're likely to make prior to publishing something on the web.

I didn't see anything mentioned on SEO for drupal here, perhaps because this is simply a chapter on accessibility. There's a great Drupal module on the drupal.org site, http://drupal.org/project/seo_checklist.

Also, for anyone in the bay area that's interested, I run an SEO Training Class in San Francisco.

Tommy

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