Weblogs: Web Accessibility

The RNIB response to website criticism

Friday, July 18, 2003

As mentioned previously, the RNIB relaunched their website by largely ignoring web standards. They were using largely presentational based HTML, and nested tables to implement the design instead of using CSS. A number of UK-based webdesigners criticised the RNIB's approach - pointing out a number of invalid HTML constructs and usability problems.

As a result, the RNIB have taken aboard the criticisms and comments and have now published a FAQ-like reply. I'm a little disappointed with their reply, there is a shadow of distain over moden web development techniques, especially CSS.

They've actually directly mentioned my redesign attempt and picked up a massive flaw - overlapping of content which renders the design as unreadable. Its a fair comment, and a mistake I've made. I accept that my current attempt doesn't meet the RNIB's for usability and readability.

So I've redone the design again (still valid XHTML1.0 and CSS), this time avoiding the use of absolute positioning, and going for a float-based layout. The technique has worked very nicely indeed, and now the current design is far more flexible than the RNIB's current design.

I'm grateful for the time that the RNIB have spent analysing and evaluating my design. It was certainly a surprise, and I should have taken more care in the actual design itself. I admit it was a rushed job - done late at night, and I made some very basic mistakes. Of course, my lack of testing again hit me square.

Hopefully this public dialogue with the RNIB will continue, for the good of the accessibility of all websites, not just within the UK.

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