Accessibility Kit in MOSS - Is it really accessible?

Mark Harrison has just posted a little notice about the fact that the United Nations office is using the Accessibility Kit with MOSS. Wondering about the result I took a look at the United Nations site.

Looking at it I have stumbled upon poor HTML and multilevel nested tables to start with. Disabling images takes away the language menu. Disabling CSS reveals the true nature of the tables for layout: the site becomes difficult to read. And the worse of it all: disabling JavaScript causes the drop down menu to stop working. The visitor cannot access the links from the second level.

Even validating the site against just the WCAG 1.0 Priority 1 requirement results in errors. In spite of using the Accessibility Kit for SharePoint the site is still far from being accessible, if you ask me.

Don't get me wrong: looking at the requirements of the basic accessibility requirements as stated by WCAG 1.0 Priority 1, you don't have to have valid HTML and you may use tables for layout. But do these rules really lead to creating an accessible and better site?

I think that the most important thing is the understanding of what accessibility and standards compliancy really are (Roger Johansson has written some time ago a really good article about Web standards and accessibility). Looking at AKS I'm starting to understand its role. It's definitely not a turn key accessibility solution - we all knew that since the day AKS has been release. What's becoming clear to me is that AKS has a very important role when it comes to awareness about accessibility and web standards. It's release and presence definitely takes attention of people responsible for designing and developing SharePoint Web Content Management solutions. It can be the first step towards accessible web site but it definitely won't take you there: let's be clear about it.

Technorati Tags: SharePoint, SharePoint 2007, MOSS 2007, WCM, Accessibility

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