Text resize and accessibility conundrum

Hi all

Hoping for some advice, of either technical or the client management type…

I’m working on a website redesign for a local government funded body - i.e. a public sector client who’s website is used by general public, schools, business, councils, etc. They quite rightly want their redesigned site to be accessible and legally I believe they have to ensure it is.

One feature of their current site is a javascript powered text resizer, the sort with smaller and larger letter ‘A’ s which can be clicked to make the text smaller or larger. They want to retain this facility in the redesigned site.

I’ve strongly suggested that the revised design uses a “Resize Text” link which links to a page similar to this one: http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/accessibility because

a) we can’t rely on all users having javascript enabled (especially in local government, schools and business)

b) educating people how to use their browser controls to resize text is a solution they can use on many other websites.

(Obviously the text sizes will be specified in in the css with em units for the benefit of IE users.)

The client however insists they want to keep the current text resize functionality. So my questions are:

a) does anyone know of a css only or css+php method to resize text?
b) can anyone suggest a way of strengthening my argument to the client? - maybe there’s an official/independent accessibility study or maybe it’s actually illegal under UK disability law?

Any suggestions most appreciated - even telling me I’m worrying about nothing - thanks!

Yes, it is a legal requirement for all websites commissioned within the UK that they have to be accessible and there are additional rules for the type you are working on.

Obviously the ‘text resize’ should still work to at least 200% even without repeating the default browser controls and if JS is disabled the widget mustn’t confuse the user. It must be progressive enhancement.

It doesn’t strictly break any UK accessibility law (if its written and implemented correctly) but there are considerations about needlessly reproducing core browser functionality using a non standard method. Plus a site should still work without JS anyway and not require a mouse to activate.

If you want some fuel to use against them mention; it doesn’t teach the user how to change the font size for other websites that don’t provide these types of controls (or specifically the one they are planning on implementing). Also it’s an additional learning process the user will have to become familiar with, i.e. a proprietary or unfamiliar ‘resize’ tool/control.

Or you could just declare all your fonts in %/EM… so that people who have their OS and/or browser set to a different default size get the resize automatically. The aAA javascript asshattery only serves a purpose for the idiots who declare EVERYTHING on the page in PX.

Which is a miserable /FAIL/ at web design typically done by photoshop jockeys who have no business making websites in the first place!

You just tell them – anyone who needs larger fonts probably has their OS or browser set to handle it automatically if you use EM’s as your font measurement – there’s no reason to waste code or bandwidth on something that even people who want larger fonts HATE. Personally, as a large font/120dpi (windows 7 medium/125%) user, if I have to track down some stupid resizer script element OR resort to using the zoom in my browser, I assume whoever wrote the site has no business writing websites!

Jason is absolutely correct that font size is a user set variable, and developers must honor the user’s default size. If alternatively sized fonts are to be offered, it must be done server side, and not be dependent on javascript that may be disabled. A cookie can make the change persistent, so the visitor need not resize on every page.



You will also probably find this informative http://www.w3.org/WAI/changedesign like was mentioned previously if the site is designed correctly the compliant browser will be more than capable or allowing the user to resize text without resorting to non standard methods.

I don’t see why you can’t just do all those things.

Of course you built the site to be able to withstand 200% increase in text enlarge OR zoom, yes? So users who ctrl++ all the time as I do are cool.

And next to your AAA links you can have a link to “How do I enlarge my text on any web page?” for edjumacatin’ those who want to learn.

And you keep the silly JS because this client of yours probably knows if it suddenly vanishes, those users who’ve been relying on it will come out of the woodwork to complain, likely by telephone. Explaining there’s a link to show them how to do it would be using a lot of someone’s telephone time.

So just make sure the JS is a really simple couple of lines, not some traditional widget: all it does is increase the body font, which you (hopefully) have set at 100% by default (the user’s default size). So JS just affecting CSS the same way what happens when we’re ctrl++ing anyway.

This way: client knows its users used to AAA links still have them.
People without JS can always CTRL++ (so, let Javascript create the AAA links, so they are not there and broken for those without JS… but keep the link to How To static and always on the page)
Your site is now fully accessible as far as text enlarge goes, and your javascript to change CSS would likely be much much smaller than the bloat the traditional buttons seem to use (I haven’t looked at the code of those in a long time).

You won’t find any studies I don’t think, but WebAIM discussed the widgets long ago: http://webaim.org/blog/web-accessibility-preferences-are-for-sissies/
Here’s a blog/podcast from Web Axe: http://webaxe.blogspot.com/2010/08/no-to-text-resize-widgets.html where someone gives a similar argument to yours. Maybe will be some support.