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Commentary on the DRC Web report

In April 2004, the UK Disabilities Rights Commission (DRC) published its official report on public Web site accessibility - The Web: Access and Inclusion for Disabled People.

The report assessed the accessibility of 1000 UK sites using automated checking tools, and considered 100 of these sites in more detail, including disabled user testing.

It's a fine report and worth reading. The recommendations are thoughtful, even if a few of them are unlikely to be implemented in practice.

Here are some highlights from the report.

Table 6 in the report, showing the problems most commonly encountered by disabled users during testing, is especially interesting. Notice that most of these issues are level AA, not level A. In the list below, which summarises the table, items are level AA unless otherwise marked.

1. Text equivalents for non-text elements, such as images - (level A)
2. Foreground and background colour contrast
3. Equivalents for scripts, applets or other programmatic objects - (level A)
4. Movement in pages
5. Pop-ups and other spawned windows
6. Large blocks of information, which should be split into manageable parts
7. Clear identification of the target of each link
8. Clear and simple language - (level A)

Finally, there is one accidental revelation from the report. It doesn't mention PDFs, but was itself first published as a PDF, with no HTML version - even six weeks later - though an RTF was soon added. That tells us something about the acceptability of the PDF file type, at least in accessibility terms. If the DRC can tolerate publishing material exclusively as PDF, even for a limited amount of time, it can hardly criticise other sites that do the same thing.

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