Accessible websites automatically with Immediacy

Written By: Peter Abrahams
Content Copyright © 2007 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.

A website is created by two different groups:

  • The Webmaster is responsible for the overall framework including the templates, house style, navigation, page structure and complex input processes.
  • The subject matter expert (SME) is responsible for the creation of the content including the description of the organisation and its products and services.

The SME should be provided with a tool for content creation that is easy to use and creates compliant code and accessible content. Technically this means that the HTML is error free and abides by the latest standards, preferably XHTML strict, and that the pages adhere to the WCAG standards and Section 508.

Immediacy CMS provides a content creation editor that does just that.

  • The editor is browser based so can be used from the user’s normal workstation.
  • The interface has the look and feel of Microsoft Office Word so is intuitive and easy to use by anyone familiar with Word.
  • It is a WYSIWYG editor so the content can be seen in the context of the page layout and without the need to see or understand any HTML.
  • Content can be cut and pasted from other sources, including Word. The basic formatting such as headings, paragraphs, hyperlinks and lists will be retained and stored as XHTML (for the technically minded, none of the Word-specific HTML will be kept so the HTML is simple). The editor will show what has been created and some tidying maybe necessary but is not difficult.
  • When special features are used such as including an image or a hyperlink then pop up windows will ask for the required information including alt tags for the images or titles for links.
  • Having created some content it can be run against an integrated accessibility checker that will find errors and create a list of warnings. When the user points at the error or warning description the editor will highlight the section of the page effected which makes it very easy to make any required modifications. There are also links from the description to further details of what to check for and how to fix it.
  • Once the SME is happy with the content it is then submitted for quality assurance before going into production.

I have created some test pages using the editor and I found it intuitive and easy to use. The excellent news is that when I published them and ran my various manual and automated accessibility tests they all ran clean; I have seldom been able to say that of any other pages I have tested.

Further, Immediacy provide a variety of plug-ins to provide specific website functionality; one of these is an accessibility plug-in. This plug-in enables a user to change the overall text size and the background-foreground colour combinations these changes can be important to people with visual impairments or dyslexia.

Immediacy has recently signed an agreement with Connect Internet Solutions (Connect) to offer public and private sector customers the opportunity to take advantage of the .NET-based Immediacy CMS. Connect is an e-business and e-government consultancy and is a holder of a Catalist Framework Agreement, which means that it is an officially approved supplier to the public sector in the UK. The Catalist agreement should help to simplify and speed up the installation of Immediacy in public sector organisations.

Anyone who wants their website to be accessible should consider Immediacy.