Low-Income, Text, and Disabled Friendly
Introduction How is This Accomplished? In Addition
Contrary to common belief, not everyone has the latest operating system, browser, or disability software aid. It's also a typical misconception that people have, or will take, the time to down load a new browser, transfer all previous settings (or reset everything), work out all the bugs, and finally become comfortable with it. This tedium is exacerbated when one must update to a new operating system, and in some cases buy a new computer, if the new browser won't run on the old system. Then to be considered is the money required to fund all this.
Nor does everyone have a broadband connection -- either because the service is not available, or because users cannot afford this type of connection and/or the equipment that goes with it.
Accessible design takes into account these factors, and it
Additionally, the annoyances and aggravations encountered
- No Specific Browser Requirement. Websites that require a particular browser are optimised for it only. Other browsers will not render its pages properly, if at all. The AIEL website does not demand that visitors have a specific browser.
- No Advertisements. Ads take time to load, often intrude upon, or interfere with, the content of a page, and are generally a nuisance. No advertisements appear on the AIEL website.
- Fewer Images on a Page. Our photo galleries and catalogue pages aside, excessive numbers of images are kept low so as to provide very fast page loading -- even on non-broadband connections.
- Small File Sizes for Images. Related to the above, by keeping the file of each image to a reasonable size, loading speed is enhanced. File sizes are typically in the 20 to 40 kB range. For photo pages such as the Shop Photo Tour and the Photo Galleries, few exceed 75 kB.
- No Sounds. Since this is not a speech, music, or sound effects site, there are no audio files here -- not even in the background. These are especially annoying when they start automatically. There are also no bothersome `shh-ting', `whoop', `click' or `poomp' sounds that interfere with your personal music to which you might be listening while perusing the documents here.
- No Videos. As above, no videos are used. They consume lots of resources, and when set to run automatically, they cannot always be easily turned off or bypassed.
- No Frames. It is just not necessary for our site to have different parts of a given screen be independent of one another. Designs using frames reduce the size of what is being read so as to allow for content in other frames to appear at the same time. This particularly hampers visitors using small-screen mobile devices. Furthermore, a poor layout of multiple frames can add to screen clutter, and may be confusing for those that use screen readers.
- Keyboard Accessible. For those persons that cannot use a pointer device (or prefer not to), all navigation can be controlled, and all content is able to be accessed, via the keyboard.
- No Tracking. We never track any of your browsing, nor do we gather any personal information.
- No HTTPS Requirement. (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol, Secure) You are on an information website. No visitor statistics are ever requested nor is visitor input required. As such, HTTPS is not used here. This allows access to those using older browsers because they will not be blocked.
- No Defined Window Size. Some sites specify the width dimension of the page by setting an absolute value for it. If this size is smaller than the one you have chosen, everything will be compressed into a narrow column down the center of your screen; if it is larger, you must scroll sideways to view all the content. With the latter, it is possible to miss things if you do not happen to notice that side scrolling is required.
With some exceptions, this site's pages float so that they automatically expand to fill, or contract to fit, the popular window sizes of 640, 800, and 1024 pixels. This is a good range because it covers mobile devices up to fairly large desktop monitors. A mobile-only version could be done, but it is desired to have the AIEL webpage display as consistently as possible across all devices and platforms. (See next.)
- No Specific Mobile Version. A website that has different versions for mobile and desktop/laptop usage often means one looks and operates too differently from the other. In some cases, links, features, or images are not always found in both versions, and if they are, these may appear in different locations. Such inconsistencies across a range of devices are a pain for those that view the same site on one screen, then later on another. The AIEL web pages use the same html coding for usage on all devices, so they remain consistent for the viewer. Unless a visitor sets a screen width under 640 pixels, or has enlarged his text excessively, no adaptation is required.
- No Java. Programming languages are not used on this website except basic HTML. Static HTML pages load much faster and don't spring surprises on viewers.
- No Active X. This seems to be exclusive to the Internet Explorer browser. Any site that requires visitors to use a specific browser, specific plug-in, or specific operating system is a huge no-no in the world of accessible design. Active X gets an immediate thumbs down.
- No Circular References. Have you ever clicked on a link that goes no where, or at least, seems to go no where? This typically happens when web developers place navigation bars on every page, but don't delete (or at least grey out) any links that refer to the page on which you are already located. Such links serve zero purpose because they just waste the time of visitors that click them.
A particular annoyance is seeing Home Pages with a "Home" button. If one enters a website at some subpage, then yes, a "Home" or "Main Page" link is appropriate, but not on the Home Page itself. All this does is cause confusion: "Am I on the Home Page, or not?"
- No CSS. (Cascading Style Sheets) This is a form of HTML programming that, among other advantages, lessens the work of the page designer by consolidating common, site-wide instructions into one file, or series of files. It's not used here because it's not compatible with all software for the handicapped, nor with older browsers. As well, large or multiple CSS files can delay initial page rendering, leaving visitors drumming their fingers while they wait to see content.
Now yes, CSS can solve some of the problems discussed on this page; however, so as to remain compatible with the widest variety of browsers, operating systems, and disability software, CSS is not used here.
- No Site-Wide, Forced Font Type. Many designers specify the font type in which they want text on their pages to be displayed. Even assuming that the browser being used has that font type available, some visitors want consistency from website to website, so they override these font directives by specifying a typeface they can live with. However, some websites can still get around that by using trickery. We don't specify font types so our text will always be displayed with the default you have chosen, not the designer's.
Since this is being discussed, if you don't like the text font you see here, simply reset your browser to use one you like. From then onward, this site and others not forcing fonts, will always display with your chosen type face. To take care of most other sites that do have a font directive, set your chosen font as the default.
- No Site-Wide, Forced Font Size. This is related to the above. Have you noticed when moving from one website to another that some have their basic text(*) too large, while others have it too small? As discussed in the last point, reset your browser's default font size to one that reads well for you. We don't demand that your browser use a specific font size for basic text; it will always display with your chosen default.
(*) Basic Text is that which you see in non-header paragraphs. Titles and subtitles on this website will still display larger, and additionally, some footnote-style text may be smaller.
- No Pop-Ups. No one likes these! You'll never see any pop-ups here -- EVER!
- No HTML 5. HTML 5 allows for much more control over how webpages are rendered and operate. Our pages are coded to HTML 4.01 Transitional so as to be compatible with more browsers. Furthermore, HTML tags have been kept simple so that browsers brought out before 4.01 was instituted can still access all our content.
- No Drop-Downs. These refer to menus that open up from the top downward, but apply to any menus that open when the pointer is hovered over a navigation link, or when such a link is clicked. These can be convenient, although ones that open without clicking can be annoying because as one moves the pointer across these links, menus appear and disappear in a flurry. The latter is a problem for sight-impaired persons that use a screen reader which vocalises a page's content.
Yes, if drop-down menus don't open automatically, and their selections are written to be unambiguous when compared with the other available drop-down menu selections, then it's not too bad; however, too many websites are not designed that way. As such, these types of menu links can be overwhelming to some.
Regardless, drop-down menus are not used on this site because the style chosen is to have a series of header pages, one for each major sub-section. Each of these displays a Table of Contents for what is available from that page. This keeps each section organised and better isolated so as to eliminate the chance of confusion.
The use of a Table-of-Contents page for each section means having the space to provide a short, descriptive paragraph for each link and be accompanied by a list of bulleted subtopics. The advantage is that one need not waste time going into each link to see what it's about. This is because the description and list of topics already tells you what to expect before clicking. (More on these points in the closing In Addition section.)
Yet having said all the above, as a service to those that prefer to see at a glance what lies below any header page without going there, the AIEL Links Index is provided. Categories are alphabetised, and each is clickable right from that page, as are its sub-links.
- No Automated (or manual) New Windows. This is another irritant to many, especially when that window takes control and won't let you get out easily. None here!
- No Plug-Ins Required. Sites that make you take time away to down load, install, and debug anything are annoying. You won't be put through that here. Excessive plug-in requirements also slow loading times.
- No Flash Animation. Besides requiring a plug-in for some users, Flash can also take control of your browser; in some cases it forces you to watch the entire video before you can move on. Some websites use them for openers, as attention-getters, or to provide fancy movement, but once you've seen them a few times, they become irritating -- especially if there is no `Stop' or `Skip' button. Plus, Flash content is often bulky in size and so can quickly consume resources on less-capable systems.
A major problem occurs for users that encounter a website entry page that only uses Flash and has not provided an alternate entry link. Visitors without Flash capability cannot enter that website. Such pages also tend to rank lower in search engines because there is no text upon which to base a search.
- No Animations of Any Type. No animations are required at this site, so they are not used. None of that distracting aggravation here.
- No Orphan Pages. Have you ever landed on a page that has no link back to that site's Home Page? What about one with no clickable links at all? Although few recent pages seem to exhibit such poor behaviour, there are plenty of antique webpages out there that do.
Other than our Opener and Main Page, at the bottom of all pages is a link back to the AIEL Main Page. Also typically located along with it are two or three links to related parts of the AIEL website to assist in navigation to similar pages of interest.
- No "Click Here" Links. How many times have you seen a line or paragraph of text leading to hypertext with the words "click here" being the link? This is a major issue for those wanting to bookmark a series of links on a website. When one goes back to the Bookmark File, each of this type of link reads the same! Worse, when reviewing bookmarks some time after such links have been bookmarked, one has to go into each link to see what it's about. GRRRR!
Some visitors rename each link when bookmarking, but it should not be forced upon them to do so. Even when one is not bookmarking, after reading a page and then going back to look for a specific link, one must re-read paragraphs, or at least individual lines, to figure out which link to click.
Pity too, site-impaired or blind handicapped users that have to sort out where such links actually lead, and what might be found there.
- No Short Search Fields. Have you entered words and/or phrases into a Search field (or any on-line form) only to find that some of them disappear off one end or the other? Why do designers not allow enough room? Since it is nice to be able to peruse all that you have entered at a glance, our Search Fields allow 60 characters to be visible at a time.
Have you ever run into an absolute character limit when entering your words or phrases? We permit up to 150 characters in total; this is enough for any search you might contemplate on a stage lighting website such as ours.
Have a look: AIEL Search Field
Spelling and Grammar. Given the software writing accessories available today, why don't all webpage designers use them? Sure, we all make mistakes and some of them slip onto webpages, even with good software tools. However, publishing a website containing poor grammar, spelling, and punctuation, and not bothering to at least have that software look for errors, implies either arrogance, ignorance, or laziness regarding the designer's abilities, or more likely, poor schooling. This in turn implies that the page owner may not have the educational capability to ensure that the site's content is accurate, or that he or she is even up to the standards required to compose that content. This reflects in a manner regarding trust in a company, its personnel, and/or its products and services.
Alternate Text. Proper and descriptive "Alt" tags are used for images, and for this website, these are made distinct from the narrative text by enclosing the Alt Tag text in parentheses. Furthermore, each Alt Tag opens with the word "Image:" so as to identify exactly what is going on. For our photo pages, accompanying text fleshes out the `Alt' descriptions so that sight-impaired persons can "hear" what others see.
Varying Looks. As mentioned earlier, each division of the AIEL website has its own look and begins with a descriptive Table of Contents from which all its subpages are accessed. Most webpage design tutorials advocate that a site's look be maintained throughout; however, when a site becomes very large, this sameness works against it because visitors can become confused as to where they are. While maintaining an overall look for the whole AIEL site, having a different appearance for each section keeps visitors focused on the grouped topics being presented.
Having said that, there will be some apparent contradictions to this on the site. Although each section's subpages will have a consistent look and layout, a link may be encountered within one of those documents that does not. This is because it takes one to a subpage of a different division, and so that page's look matches its grouping of subjects.
E-Mail Address. Our e-mail address is readily available throughout the website without having to navigate various menus, without having to scan large pages trying to find out how to contact us, and without having to deal with cryptic text that some designers employ to fool automated e-mail address harvesters.
Universal E-Mail Access. Our pages also support the "instant access" e-mail feature that some browsers have: Pressing `c' (Contact) or other designated letter immediately brings up your chosen e-mail software, and in most cases with our e-mail address already filled in. This means never having to hunt for an e-mail link, or even having to actually know our e-mail address. Oddly, few webpage designers seem to include the single line of code necessary to provide this feature. All AIEL webpages do.
Digital Divide Friendly. To expand upon this page's opening discussion, the Digital Divide sees many disabled and low-income earners blocked from websites because they are using older browsers and software, and on older computer equipment that cannot be upgraded without knowledge or expense. Fast loading for these users is a must. Their browsers should not get bogged down rendering an excessive number of large images, or having to execute elaborate instructions.
Then there is the great cost of broadband Internet. Persons that cannot access, or cannot afford, a high-speed connection are still able to fully use this website.
List of Updates. For regular visitors, an
Updates listing is provided to allow them to know
which pages have new content, or to which improvements have been made. This
is a convenient time saver, especially since direct links are right there
for each relevant page.
Text Versions of Complex Pages. For instructionals and tips
at our website, we have provided at the end of each article a link to a file
with a text-only version of the html page. These files make for ease of
downloading for those that want to keep a shop manual on a computer, or to
print out for storage in a binder. Then there is the fact that text-only
versions load in an instant -- even on the slowest of connections.
The Table of Contents pages for our Instructionals and our Tips
sections are below. From there, one may select an individual
article, after which a link to its plain text version is provided.
You may also begin navigating our site using the
or immediately search via a direct link to the AIEL Search Box
AIEL Search Services
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