AbilityNet has released a report on U.K. political-party Web sites. Heck, my esteemed colleague Craig Saila and I did the same thing, to no effect whatsoever.

Fun fact? The report, which was poorly copy-edited (note to AbilityNet: The word “text” is not capitalized), was written in Microsoft Word, looks as ugly as nearly all such documents invariably are, and is available solely in a Word file or as an untagged PDF.

Web accessibility, anyone? (Also, you must use the hostname www. to reach their site.)

Let’s do some fact-checking. I’m only commenting on what I disagree with here, perennially.

Conservative Party

[…] Although the text is sansserif (again assisting [those with visual impairment and dyslexia])

That is severely in dispute! Try giving those people well-crafted serif screenfonts on a nice LCD monitor with subpixel rendering. Really, we can’t trust anything that proponents of LD access say about typography. Half of them want us to use Comic Sans.

certain text and links are too small under normal viewing conditions. A text-size picker is included – but even on its largest setting[,] news story text is still small.

That’s a user-agent issue. “Text is still small” is a way of saying “text is still small on Internet Explorer for Windows – which is, as everyone knows, absolutely the only browser in existence, with no font-rendering defects whatsoever.”

…images of text have, however, been used in places[,] meaning that the user cannot resize this text, or change its colour.

You can resize images in Opera. Colour is only relevant in edge cases.

Often a text label appears when you put the mouse over an image.

I beg your pardon? What is a “text label”?

alt texts may not be displayed alongside the actual image by spec. If you are referring to a deficient browser’s noncompliant habit of popping up an alt as a tooltip, then say so.

The colours used on the site always afford good contrast between text and background. However, the dark background means that a keyboard user (pressing Tab to move through links) will struggle to see which link is active.

That’s a user-agent issue. It’s true you can style the :focus behaviour of nearly anything that can take focus, at least in good browsers, and the developers should do so. Still, it’s up to the browser to make keyboard accessibility work, save for the edge case of Web applications.

Many websites use miniprograms called JavaScript embedded in their pages, which can often cause difficulties for those using older browsers [and] those with vision impairments using some special browsers

That’s outdated advice. Current practice suggests making JavaScript intrinsically accessible. In reality, we cannot do everything in HTML+CSS; if that were possible, we wouldn’t use JavaScript. Absolute duplication of function with and without the behaviour layer is impossible in all cases.

Liberal Democrats Party

[…] Much of the text resizes with the user’s preference[;] some text, however, has been “hard-coded” so that a user cannot easily make it larger….

I assume this is another way of saying “The site’s CSS uses the px unit, and absolutely the only browser anyone may ever use, Internet Explorer for Windows, with its unimpeachable type rendering, cannot resize those fonts.”

Plaid Cymru

[…] those with a cognitive impairment or learning disability… will also find the scrolling text on the home page difficult to read and very distracting.

It’s crawling text, not scrolling (horizontal movement, not vertical), and yes, it’s an embarrassment. I thought we had killed off marquee once and for all.

Scottish Nationalist Party

A drop-down menu uses a shadow effect which might cause difficulties for some visitors with a vision or cognitive impairment.

They’ve got a JavaScript-based menu system, plus another pull-down form element, but I don’t see any shadows. Surely there is no reference made here to CSS3 text-shadow.

Sinn Fein

Also some fast-scrolling text on the news page may cause difficulties for those with a vision or cognitive impairment.

It is indeed scrolling and highly undesirable, but “fast”?

U.K. Independence Party

With the minor exception of the “Print Page” function, the site still works fully when those miniprograms called JavaScript are not supported….

I trust they use print CSS. Nonetheless, for busy multicolumn sites, it’s still useful to have an autogenerated printer version for the fraction of a percentage of visitors who use Lynx and mail articles to themselves for safekeeping.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2005.04.15 14:00. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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