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From: "Philipp Lenssen" <phil@mrinfo.de>
Newsgroups: alt.html,alt.html.web-accessibility,comp.infosystems.www.authoring.site-design
Subject: Re: Accessibility of sites for blind users
Date: Wed, 5 Dec 2001 11:08:39 +0100
Message-ID: <9ukrkb$e9j$1@swifty.westend.com>
"DRN" <donaldrnoble@NOSPAM.yahoo.com> wrote in message
> I am updating our site, and am trying to make it more accessible to all
> users, especially the blind.
> I have read some guidelines on positioning of elements, for example
>     menu ~ top left,                                     search ~ top
> Having downloaded IBM's Home page reader and tested our site I found that
> having the navigation at the top may not be the best way for

It's become common here in client presentations to present an alternative
access to our web pages by using a text-to-speech plug-in. We start out by
letting it read a random WWW page (well, first time we chose it randomly,
now we stick to it -- it's a german Microsoft site, and it will take about 5
minutes of mumbling weird navigational things... you will never actually
make it to the content). We continue by letting it read one of our pages,
following the standards of XHTML1 Strict + CSS2 and the accessibility
guidelines. It will start  with the headings in the order they are intended
(h1, h2, h3), then go to the content; even when these elements are
positioned all over the page.

With CSS2, you won't give up the control of linear context flow even if you
want to have the menu on the left. In other words, these can -- and
should -- become two seperate issues if you want to optimize your page for
the blind. Or smaller screens/ hand helds, search engines, and so on.

I always put the heading and main contentual part at the top of the linear
flow, and navigation at the end. On the screen, it's usually: navigation on
the left and/ or top, content following after; it's much faster to "skip
ahead" with eye focus. Especially when you optimize white space in a way to
make it easy for the client to focus actual content in the first instant;
(eye movement for a web page is not as simple as starting out in the upper

Philipp Lenssen
M+R Infosysteme