Accessibility myths in 2010

Five and a half years ago I posted an article about Accessibility myths and misconceptions where I tried to explain why some commonly held beliefs about web accessibility are incorrect. Early this year, Ian Pouncey posted a few other Web accessibility myths.

Here is a quick roundup of the myths from these two articles.

From Accessibility myths and misconceptions:

  • Accessibility is just for blind people
  • Accessible websites are ugly and boring
  • Accessibility is expensive and difficult
  • Offering a text-only version is good enough
  • Customisation and read-aloud functionality make a site accessible

From Web accessibility myths:

  • Validation equals accessibility
  • If it works with a screen reader it is accessible
  • Sites are either accessible or inaccessible
  • Content that isn’t 100% accessible shouldn’t be published

More myths

There are even more web accessibility myths than those. Here are a couple:

If it works without JavaScript it’s accessible

This is probably caused by the fairly widespread belief that screen readers do not support JavaScript. The reasoning is that as long as you use unobtrusive JavaScript you don’t have to think about the accessibility of the markup and behaviour created by your scripts.

If screen readers really did not support JavaScript, or screen reader users in general had JavaScript disabled, this could be a reasonable approach. However, screen readers run on top of web browsers that support JavaScript and, as I mention in Unobtrusive JavaScript is not necessarily accessible JavaScript, most screen reader users do have JavaScript enabled.

And since accessibility is not just about screen readers, you also have to consider keyboard accessibility in your scripting.

Unobtrusive JavaScript is great, but it does not guarantee accessibility.

Adding title attributes to all links improves accessibility

You can use the title attribute to add “advisory information” to almost any HTML element. It sounds like a good idea at first, but there are a couple of rather serious drawbacks.

  • title attributes are mostly ignored by screen readers on most elements (other than form controls, where screen readers do tend to announce them) unless the user has changed their configuration
  • The content of title attributes is generally displayed as a tooltip in graphical browsers, but only after the mouse cursor has hovered over the element for a second or two. It is not displayed to keyboard users.

In other words, any information you put in title attributes is only certain to be conveyed to sighted, mouse-using people who let the cursor hover over the element that has a title attribute for a couple of seconds. Do not rely on it being conveyed to other users.

See Don’t duplicate link text in the title attribute and Don’t use the title attribute for essential information for more reading about the title attribute.

Posted on November 9, 2010 in Accessibility

Comments are disabled for this post (read why), but if you have spotted an error or have additional info that you think should be in this post, feel free to contact me.