Oaklands College

W3C Guideline Compliance, Web development (Westwood Design and Marketing Consultancy, )

A website built to meet W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

In the UK, accessibility has long been built into law, and public institutions such as civil service, colleges/universities, local government et al are audited. Many businesses can ignore their legal requirements in such matters, but Oaklands College could not.

Nowadays, we would build content-first sites and use progressive enhancement so that all users got a great experience, but this was 2002, their site was already built, and browsers weren't too smart. Safari and Firefox were unknown and JavaScript implementation was janky. The only solution was to construct a separate site with accessibility in mind and link to it from the main site. That's what we did.

It took a lot of research into (a) legal requirements and (b) W3C's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines before work could commence. I even installed a copy of the text-only web browser Lynx to simulate the experience of using a screen reader for the partially / fully blind.

The result was a large, plain, stripped-down, high contrast site with large type and all images replaced with greyscale versions. While it wasn't &pretty', it did meet all the usability and accessibility requirements, and was good experience that went on to become very useful once CSS layouts became mainstream three or so years later.

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