Why Accessible HTML5?
By Jen Goulden, EDP – Project & Quality Manager – Crawford Technologies Inc.
Web and document accessibility has changed dramatically over the last several years. The traditional formats (such as hard copy braille and large print) are still regularly requested, but electronic formats are becoming ever more prevalent. Accessible HTML5 is a good example of this. Although HTML is generally associated with web pages, it can also be used to produce accessible documents of any length and complexity level. HTML is certainly not a new format, and even Accessible HTML5 has been around for a number of years. So what is it about Accessible HTML5 that makes it different from HTML and why is it such a great option for transactional document accessibility?
One of the biggest differences between Accessible HTML5 and previous versions is the emphasis on semantics. The use of tags such as <header> and <nav> instead of divs makes it easier for screen readers to process. For anyone who is less technically inclined, a div allows developers to combine a number of elements into one tag. For example, a div could include the h1 style but could also contain information on the font in which the header will appear. Screen readers don’t work well with divs, which is one of the reasons that the tagging in Accessible HTML5 results in a better experience for users of assistive technology.
Another advantage of this format – as compared with Accessible PDF – is that it is easier to make accessibility-related adjustments, even if you are not the document author. Furthermore, anyone reading the output with a refreshable braille display will have a well-formatted document, which is not always the case with Accessible PDF (particularly if said PDF is a scanned image)! Having said this, Accessible HTML5, like Accessible PDF, can be used by anyone, which means that you have the opportunity to implement a business-as-usual solution that works for all of your customers.
Finally, smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices are by far the most common means of accessing personal and confidential information. This is true regardless of whether or not the individual has a print disability. Accessible HTML5 is designed to work well in this context, particularly when it comes to navigability. The tags applied to headings, tables, graphics and other elements enable the end user to navigate easily through the file on a mobile device. This is probably the greatest asset of Accessible HTML5. When combined with an accessible app or portal this leading-edge accessible format can provide a seamless user experience for all of your customers, whether they request their personal and confidential information in an alternate format or not. Interested in learning more about Accessible HTML? Contact us today and we’d be happy to help.