JavaScript and Accessibility - They Can Work Together

Once again, WebReference’s Andy King wrote an exceptional explanation about JavaScript and accessibility issues in today’s WebReference Newsletter[1]. As he mentions, they can work together very well to still have accessible sites while taking advantage of great uses of JavaScript.

I’ve also ranted here about the Olympics 2002 site and its major accessibility blunders, and since Andy is quite a JavaScript expert, he covered far more details about the JavaScript issues in his Olympics 2002 review and followup.

Jakob Nielsen also recently reviewed the Olympics 2002 for usability problems in his article, Official Winter Olympics Site: Not Even Bronze, and discussed it at a luncheon that I wrote about here, too. It’s impossible for me to understand the Olympics site not even having a search feature!!

As Andy also explains in today’s WebReference Newsletter, there are plenty of ways to work with JavaScript that also allow for accessibility, including navigation, for example. There are lots of good DHTML drop-down menus that are gorgeous and function well while also degrading gracefully for browsers that don’t understand the scripting.

For more simple navigation, if you note my own navigation at the top of each page here, you’ll see a burgundy square appear to the left of each navigation item. Those squares appear because of JavaScript[2] while I’ve also used text links. At my SKDesigns site, I’ve used JavaScript and graphics for navigation, but if JavaScript and images are turned off or not available, the JavaScript includes text links that will still work, and of course the ALT attributes are used within the image element. This allows for accessibility and for search engines, too.

screenshot of SKDesigns with images turned off, JavaScript turned off

screenshot of SKDesigns with images turned on, JavaScript turned on

So making a site that’s also accessible doesn’t mean it must be plain text at all, nor does it mean you can’t use some of the available technologies, such as JavaScript or even Flash. See’s Accessibility section for links to guidelines, tutorials, and more.

[1] hat tip: Andy King

[2] I thank Dori Smith, JavaScript expert and author, for creating the cross-browser, accessible JavaScript that I’ve adapted and used quite a bit for clients' sites and my own sites, too. She and co-author (and husband) Tom Negrino have provided scripts from their books at their site, JavaScript World.

09:01 am, pst22 February, 2002 Comments, Trackbacks ·';}?>

Categories: Accessibility

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