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  1. #1
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    The Elusive AAA Site

    Could someone provide links to genuine, fully AAA-compliant sites? I've got a client who wishes to follow the letter of the guidelines as well as the spirit. Very cool, but I'm totally flummoxed about how to handle stuff like section 11.3.

    Any examples? Or is true AAA-compliance impossible?

    Kid Koala

  2. #2
    SitePoint Author silver trophybronze trophy

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    11.3 can be handled via content negotiation: examining the Accept and Accept-Language HTTP headers sent by the user agent when requesting a server resource. The question is, how many and which languages and content types do you have to provide to comply?

    In my opinion 14.2 is the really tricky one, and the one that requires special knowledge and lots of resources. It means you should provide images that illustrate concepts described in text, to make them accessible to people who cannot comprehend textual information. It means you should provide audio clips or text-to-speech features for those who cannot see and those who cannot read (well). It means you should provide video clips with the text translated into sign language. At least that's my take on it.

    9.5 is difficult in real life, since the accesskey mechanism in HTML conflicts with access keys in the browser or operating system (except in Opera).

    AAA-compliance is not impossible, but it's very, very difficult. It requires skills other than those of a typical designer or developer, and it requires resources beyond those normally available to small and mid-sized organisations.
    Birnam wood is come to Dunsinane

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    SitePoint Wizard silver trophybronze trophy Stormrider's Avatar
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    access keys don't clash in firefox either since v2 I think.

  4. #4
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    What exactly is AAA?

    Thanks

  5. #5
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    It's accessibility compliance. The toughest one to comply with. There are three levels: A, AA, and AAA. Think of them as "entry level", "intermediate" and "expert-level".

    http://www.w3.org/wai

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    SitePoint Wizard silver trophybronze trophy Stormrider's Avatar
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    I think the WAI say that level A checkpoints MUST be implemented, level AA checkpoints SHOULD be implemented, and level AAA checkpoints should be implemented wherever you can.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the responses. AutisticCuckoo makes it sound so easy...

    Seriously though, I believe we're already pretty close to a solid AA and we've even got a few AAA items in there (this is based on review, not an online checker). But achieving all of the recommendations...well, we're still a long way off.

    I'm still hoping to see someone has reached AAA somewhere. No examples?

    Kid Koala

  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy C. Ankerstjerne's Avatar
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    Tommy
    The specification for 11.3 requires you to post the information in any language which the user would like, which means every language, past, present and future, for a website on the internet. I would say that this is impossible.
    Christian Ankerstjerne
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  9. #9
    SitePoint Guru dwzemens's Avatar
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    I am pretty new to most of this, but are you talking AAA compliance that can be checked via a web service, such as www.WebXact.com?
    Web Design, Marketing, Etc .............
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    SitePoint Wizard silver trophybronze trophy Stormrider's Avatar
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    No. Services like that can check automatic checkpoints (eg, putting a summary attribute in table tags) but they cannot check for some of the more subjective points (whether the alt text you have used is good, the language you use to communicate is clear and concise, etc). They certainly help you check it though. I use the one on totalvalidator.com.

  11. #11
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    The specification for 11.3 requires you to post the information in any language which the user would like, which means every language, past, present and future, for a website on the internet. I would say that this is impossible.

    Ugh. Time for me to brush up on Linear B and proto-Hangul.

    Maybe these needs tend to be individualized enough that all we hope for is provide a version of our sites that can be readily transformed into whatever someone can work with. Translation, whether simply trying to simplify for someone with less skills of comprehension, or someone speaking a different language, is a difficult path even for skilled specialists.

    Looking at these guidelines more closely (love that vagueness), I wonder about the validity of any claims of AAA-compliance.

    Incidentally, I ran a furniture site I did recently through one of the online validators and it passed AAA. It's A-level with maybe a few AA bits implemented...don't put too much weight on these results.

    A passing score doesn't mean compliance any more than having a valid site means clean separation of content and presentation.

    We'll follow as many recommendations as we can, and leave the rest; my client is getting hung up on a rating.

    Kid Koala

  12. #12
    SitePoint Guru mattymcg's Avatar
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    Just have to say that I'm really impressed that a client is demanding this. Certainly not the norm.
    I design beautiful, usable interfaces. Oh, and I wrote a kids' book.
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    Buy my book, Charlie Weatherburn and the Flying Machine.

  13. #13
    SitePoint Author silver trophybronze trophy

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    Quote Originally Posted by kid_koala View Post
    AutisticCuckoo makes it sound so easy...
    Quote Originally Posted by AutisticCuckoo View Post
    AAA-compliance is not impossible, but it's very, very difficult. It requires skills other than those of a typical designer or developer, and it requires resources beyond those normally available to small and mid-sized organisations.
    That makes it sound easy?

    Quote Originally Posted by dunkley View Post
    What exactly is AAA?
    It's a compliance level with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). The checkpoints in those guidelines are assigned priority levels (1, 2 or 3).

    Priority 1 checkpoints must be implemented, or the page is inaccessible to some users.
    Priority 2 checkpoints should be implemented, or some users will have major difficulties with the page.
    Priority 3 checkpoints may be implemented to make the page easier to use for some users.

    Level A compliance requires that all priority-1 checkpoints are satisfied.
    Level AA compliance requires that all priority-1 and -2 checkpoints are satisfied.
    Level AAA compliance requires that all checkpoints, including priority 3, are satisfied.

    Quote Originally Posted by C. Ankerstjerne View Post
    Tommy
    The specification for 11.3 requires you to post the information in any language which the user would like, which means every language, past, present and future, for a website on the internet. I would say that this is impossible.
    It depends on your interpretation, and I assume that the WAI didn't mean it to be quite that tough.
    Provide information so that users may receive documents according to their preferences (e.g., language, content type, etc.)
    It's not very well put, because it may be interpreted just as you said.

    Quote Originally Posted by dwzemens View Post
    I am pretty new to most of this, but are you talking AAA compliance that can be checked via a web service, such as www.WebXact.com?
    Automated accessibility checkers have some limited value, because they can spot certain problems and mistakes that are easy to overlook. But they cannot tell you whether or not a page is accessible. Many aspects of accessibility cannot be checked by a machine.

    These checking tools normally tell you that you have to perform a number of manual checks, but people tend to disregard that part. If the Webxact tool says you have achieved AAA compliance, it just means that it cannot find any machine-checkable checkpoints that fail. The page can still be utterly inaccessible and unusable.
    Birnam wood is come to Dunsinane

  14. #14
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy C. Ankerstjerne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AutisticCuckoo View Post
    It depends on your interpretation, and I assume that the WAI didn't mean it to be quite that tough.
    True - but strictly speaking, my interpretation is the logical extreme of the guidelines
    Christian Ankerstjerne
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    Sesame Street Iimitk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kid_koala View Post
    I'm still hoping to see someone has reached AAA somewhere. No examples?

    Kid Koala
    Here's a list of actual results.
    Imagination is more important than knowledge. - Einstein

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    SitePoint Author silver trophybronze trophy

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    Quote Originally Posted by C. Ankerstjerne View Post
    True - but strictly speaking, my interpretation is the logical extreme of the guidelines
    Agreed.
    Birnam wood is come to Dunsinane

  17. #17
    SitePoint Author silver trophybronze trophy

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    Quote Originally Posted by simsim View Post
    I looked at the first two of those, and neither one features a single visual or auditory supplement to facilitate the understanding of the information. That means they fail at least 14.2.

    My guess is that the majority of the other 24,000 links will also fail.
    Birnam wood is come to Dunsinane

  18. #18
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy C. Ankerstjerne's Avatar
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    That is only a list of pages claiming to be AAA-compliant. Based on the strictly logical definition of the specification, all of them are lying.
    Christian Ankerstjerne
    <p<strong<abbr/HTML/ 4 teh win</>
    <>In Soviet Russia, website codes you!

  19. #19
    Sesame Street Iimitk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AutisticCuckoo View Post
    I looked at the first two of those, and neither one features a single visual or auditory supplement to facilitate the understanding of the information. That means they fail at least 14.2.

    My guess is that the majority of the other 24,000 links will also fail.
    Quote Originally Posted by C. Ankerstjerne View Post
    That is only a list of pages claiming to be AAA-compliant. Based on the strictly logical definition of the specification, all of them are lying.
    True. But I thought the AAA-compliance button at the end of those pages would lead to a validator page just like the (X)HTML/CSS validator pages!

    Now everyone could claim AAA-compliance that way!
    Imagination is more important than knowledge. - Einstein

  20. #20
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy C. Ankerstjerne's Avatar
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    It is not possible to automatically validate for AAA-accessibility. The text on W3C is formulated to inform the visitor of this.
    Christian Ankerstjerne
    <p<strong<abbr/HTML/ 4 teh win</>
    <>In Soviet Russia, website codes you!

  21. #21
    SitePoint Author silver trophybronze trophy

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    Quote Originally Posted by simsim View Post
    I thought the AAA-compliance button at the end of those pages would lead to a validator page just like the (X)HTML/CSS validator pages!
    No, they usually link to WCAG 1.0, since it is impossible to fully validate a web page automatically.

    (X)HTML and CSS validation is easy. There are simple rules and they can be checked by a computer program. (Except that the program cannot decide if the markup is used correctly, only that it conforms to the syntax rules.)

    Accessibility cannot be checked that way. You need what a friend calls 'the Mk I eye-ball'. In other words, some aspects can only be verified by human beings.
    Birnam wood is come to Dunsinane

  22. #22
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy C. Ankerstjerne's Avatar
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    There are simple rules and they can be checked by a computer program.
    Which essentially explains both scenarios. The markup validator checks that the page can be read correctly by a program. For this purpose, another program is always best. Accessibility is about the user's ability to use the page, which is best checked by another human.
    Christian Ankerstjerne
    <p<strong<abbr/HTML/ 4 teh win</>
    <>In Soviet Russia, website codes you!

  23. #23
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    I appreciate the comments; it's clear now my original request was a bit naive. This was reinforced this morning when I stumbled into an Accessify forum and discovered that other people gave up on AAA several years ago.

    Quote Originally Posted by simsim View Post
    I visited a small sampling of these sites (a total of nine). Not even a random sampling: I purposely biased my visits to include only those sites either offering accessible web development services or UK governmental sites (IIRC, these have to follow some rigorous standards). All of these claimed AAA-compliance down to the little W3C glyph.

    Of the sites I visited, several did not even meet single-A guidelines like providing alternate text for images. On sites that met this criteria (at face value), they lacked other simple-to-implement guidelines like supporting abbreviations, acronyms, and foreign phrases...

    Other issues included non-semantic code in table-based layouts (some to point of unreadability in Lynx), inline styles, layouts that broke up as soon as I started to enlarge text, poorly structured tabular data, no "skiplink" shortcuts in documents that needed them (yes, you can structure a document to eliminate or minimize these, but that was not the case here). These were just a few issues from a cursory examination.

    At least every page validated properly.

    Yes, I understand that the vast majority of websites would not pass these standards. That's fine; the vast majority of websites are also not claiming compliance with the most rigorous level of accessibility standards. These sites not only made that claim, but seven of the nine were firms specializing in accessibility. Mildly humorous.

    Thanks again!

    Kid Koala

  24. #24
    SitePoint Wizard DougBTX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattymcg View Post
    Just have to say that I'm really impressed that a client is demanding this. Certainly not the norm.
    My assumption would be that they just don't know what it is in the first place, and are demanding "the best" - irrespective of what is best for them.
    Hello World

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