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The RNIB has launched it’s new site.

I’m appalled.

The RNIB are one of the people behind the UK’s recent push for web-accessibility, including full support of the WAI standards. The RNIB site is a prefect example of a site that, whilst filling most of the technical criteria for an accessible website, is terribly implemented.

The first thing is the worst. The internal URLs are broken. Some of the urls are using backslashes instead of forward slashes, meaning that whilst IE (Which is broken in this regard) displays and links properly, Browsers that actually support the standard (Like Mozilla) get links with backslashes, which don’t work. (An example of this, this page, is the link to “Sarah’s Story”) (The page linked to is mirrored in the link at the bottom of this article, just in case the thing is updated).

The second is the link colours. They define the background to white and the default text to black, but leave all other links alone. If someone (as many Vision Impaired People (ViPs) do) set their text colour to gray and the background to black for ease of reading, with the links as white, the links become invisible.

The menu system breaks at 800*600 resolution, displaying broken lines where none should be. I’m not even going to mention 640*480.

It doesn’t validate. Not even by a little. There is no DOCTYPE specified, and even if we override it there are 83 errors, including tables that aren’t closed properly.

The design also breaks at 1600*1200 resolution, though not by much.

The code is horrible. They’ve defined arbitrary meta tags, half the page is commented out.

In their defence, they’ve provided alt tags for every image on the page. In attack, they’ve also put in transparent pixels with alt-tags to signpost the page. Ten for idea, Zero for implementation, There are far better ways of doing it. display = hidden, for example.

The actual design, as far as it goes, isn’t bad (for me, as a slightly-colour-blind person with poor eyesight) and makes good use of colour, the menu system would be good if it worked in Mozilla.

They didn’t entity encode the symbols.

And the last, because it’s a personal issue, is the table-based design. The entire design is a table, CSS is used for styling the occasional link only. The site is filled with table & font design.

The entire web development team of RNIB should be forced to read Dive Into Accessibility at least twice.

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