Tweaking HTML5 – edition for web authors

Posted on Wednesday, 2 March 2011 by Steve Faulkner

In mid 2010 Anthony Kolber and Ben Schwarz started a discussion about the usability of W3C specifications, this resulted in Ben and Anthony’s initial restyled version of the W3C HTML5 – Edition for Web Authors.

Tweaks needed

Feedback was provided about aspects of the accessibility of the design, suggested changes were not implemented due to constraints on Ben’s time. Not wanting to be a lazy accessibility curmudgeon who complains but doesn’t do anything “all mouth no trousers“, after waiting a respectful 6 months and after discussion with Ben and Mike Smith, I spent some time modifying the original design to improve accessibility, this resulted in the latest incarnation of HTML5 – Edition for Web Authors. It is hoped that Ben or somebody else with more design chops than I will  continue to develop HTML5 – Edition for Web Authors with accessibility in mind, but until someone else steps up to give it some love, I am happy to work on it. Please provide feedback on ways it can be improved!

Changes made to the original design

  • Text and background colours modified to provide sufficient contrast for users with low to moderate vision impairments.
  • added CSS :focus pseudo selectors, so a clear indication of current focus is provided.
  • Left aligned content to provide increased usability for screen magnifier users. (helpful or not?)
  • Underlined links within paragraphs so that color is not the only differentiator between link text embedded in plain text. (helpful or not?)
  • Removed text shadows.
  • Added extra borders to data tables. (helpful or not?)
  • Hid some of the boiler plate text guff.
  • Changed default body text to verdana then changed it back to sans-serif type and then back again to verdana after discussion with John Foliot, while there is no conclusive evidence as to the readability or legibility of serif vs sans-serif fonts, I find serif fonts harder to read in large blocks of text (irony that this blog uses serif fonts is noted). What about you?

Still to do

  • Make the pop up menus on dfn elements keyboard operable and usable by assistive technology users.
  • Any problem colour combinations missed?
  • Re-organise boilerplate text so it is available, but not in the way.
  • Respond to any feedback provided.

About Steve Faulkner

Steve is the Senior Web Accessibility Consultant and Technical Director, TPG Europe. He joined The Paciello Group in 2006 and was previously a Senior Web Accessibility Consultant at vision australia. He is the creator and lead developer of the Web Accessibility Toolbar accessibility testing tool. Steve is a member of several groups, including the W3C Web Platforms Working Group and the W3C ARIA Working Group. He is an editor of several specifications at the W3C including HTML 5.1, ARIA in HTML, Notes on Using ARIA in HTML and HTML5: Techniques for providing useful text alternatives. He also develops and maintains HTML5accessibility.

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