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Support Or Educate?

Filed under: Accessibility

Support Or Educate?A great deal of website development effort and time can sometimes be spent creating facilities that allow site visitors to carry out fairly mundane changes such as increasing the text size, printing pages or even just jumping back up to the top of a page.

The sad things is that many of these functions are already present in most standard web browsers. So developers are often needlessly replicating browser functionality within sites. and why do they do this? Because so many users don’t seem to know how to make best use of their own web browsers. Admittedly, the web browser developers haven’t helped by hiding some of the most useful options within sub-menus but, at the end of the day, it is arguably the responsibility of users to learn how to operate their own software.

Web developers can help to educate users by providing simple instructions on how to resize text or change page colours as part of their standard accessibility or user support on sites. Ian Lloyd, in cooperation with, has taken it one step further by Teaching a man to fish (or how to resize text). He’s created a video and is suggesting that site owners, or developers, link to it or embed it in their accessibility statement if they think it could be useful to their users.

For anyone who cannot view or hear the video, Ian also provides a text transcript.

For my part, I’ve been running the Imp Guide for the past 7 years. The guide – which is intended for new Internet users – has an Accessify section that includes details on how to resize text via the web browser, how to over-ride colours and how to create a local style sheet. It even has a few sample local style sheets for people to try. Needless to say, the Accessify section now includes a copy of Ian’s video.

So now’s your chance. Spread the word and help create better-informed users.

Published: September 21st 2007