Elements or Lower

Fri, 17 Mar 2006

The Accessible Shell

As Patrick Griffiths notes, in the same way that the WCAG describes accessibility for web content, the lesser-known ATAG describes accessibility for applications and services that generate web content — including, of course, the web-based “Administration Shell” employed by my CMS.

Naturally, in an ideal world, the Shell would conform to all Priority One and Two (plus selected Priority Three) guidelines from both the WCAG and the ATAG. I’m sceptical of the extent to which I’ll be able to manage this — for one thing, so much of the authoring envrionment depends on JavaScript that checkpoint 6.3 of the WCAG is pretty much doomed to be broken. Nonetheless, it certainly defines a long-term goal, and a serious challenge.

The existing Shell is very far from achieving conformance with anything. I’ve even yet to apply the standard-based treatment of the front-end to the back-end, and the Shell doesn’t behave properly right now using anything other than Internet Explorer 6 — which, to make matters worse, is only available on Windows.

To address this problem, my own top priority here is to get the Shell working fully in Firefox 1.5+. It very nearly manages this even now, but there are still issues that need to be addressed.

Then comes a thorough revision of the HTML, CSS and scripting used in the Shell, so that everything is as clean and valid as possible. And then, finally, comes the larger task of working through the WCAG and ATAG. This is my new mission. It will take a while.

Wish me luck.