Building a Universally Accessible Blog

Accessibility SYmbols

Accessibility Symbols

A comment by AlisonBryan to a post I made last week that was full of YouTube videos (1930s Drama Exposes Horrors of Forced Sterilization) has given me further cause to think about the accessibility of both the What Sorts? website and this blog. After some reflecting and poking around the web I suggest that the WhatSorts community should maintain the following standards wherever possible:

  1. Descriptively tag (ALT and TITLE) every piece of media. People who use various alternative browsers rely heavily on these to navigate.
  2. Minimize use of color and make sure that all text contrasts cleanly with the background. (For those of you with a Mac OS who are not colorblind but would like to see a simulation of how those who are might see your website, check out Sim Daltonism)
  3. Select videos with subtitles wherever possible. When this is not possible, clearly indicate that subtitles are not present to save the viewer from having to find out for themselves. Sometimes scripts or extended summaries are available and these should be linked to if possible. (Subtitles are now easy to add to already existing videos with free web software available at and

That’s a start anyway, but I imagine that there are more. Towards the end of making both the What Sorts? website (currenly undergoing revision) and this blog as widely accessible as possible please post any further suggestions that you may have, including any tools or applications that may be relevant to helping the web become a more open place for everyone. I’ll pick them up and add them to the list above so that this post becomes a “living” guideline that can benefit anyone who happens this way. Also of interest are any experiences you might have using accessibility tools, either with this site or the web in general (Yes, ther are lots of forums where these things are discussed already, but a few comments here might go a long ways towards a cross-polinization of ideas).

2 thoughts on “Building a Universally Accessible Blog

  1. We’re also happy to get advice from those with more experience than us on designing the universally accessible conference or workshop. In a conference we ran in September, Understanding Human Variation, we had sign interpretation and CART, and ran into problems on the visual front with the use of powerpoint (as well as the location of wheelchair accessible bathrooms). We’re putting together a short pamphlet on this, so let us know of any resources anyone has on this already.

  2. Thanks for this post. I think it is very helpful. I have been trying to get more accessible site running for another WordPress blog that I run. Some things have been relatively easy to achieve but some have not been so easy to achieve in word press. For example, most browsers enlarge type simply by hitting command + and wordpress blogs handle this pretty well. BUT, I went back and added ALT tags to my graphics, but I an told that they don’t show up to readers. Putting open captions on pictures in WordPress is easy. I would love to hear from some users whether this is a good alternative. Also, I note that Universal Access standards usually say only use a right sidebar and not the left sidebar. Are any users experiencing problems withy this. I think that we can make this more accessible but we need user feedback to guide us.

    I wonder if there are any readers out there who can help with this. Thanks…

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