Web Accessibility and Content Management Systems


Web accessibility is an issue that is being spoken about more and more, yet very few Free Open Source Software (FOSS) Content Management Systems (CMS) are truly accessible. A growing number of countries are adopting legislation and regulations requiring a variety of websites to be accessible. Further, commercial interests suggest that a website that is  fully accessible and usable by all visitors would increase revenues. This paper will review the basic concepts of web accessibility and discuss the challenges of implementing accessibility into existing CMS, using Mambo CMS as a case study.

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The Accessibility Guidelines are Just a Starting Point

The W3C‘s WAI‘s WCAG are just starting points. They are guidelines, to point us in the right direction. But they are not the be-all and end-all in terms of providing an accessible site. Some of the guidelines are useful, others are missing. And then there are those guidelines that are good in theory, but implementation leaves a lot to be desired. This is another case where human understanding of the issues is important.

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You Can’t Make a Site Work for Everyone

I have heard people say that they won’t bother implementing accessibility on their site because no matter what they do, they can’t make the site work for everyone in every situation. They are right, there is likely to be someone facing barriers on a site, at some point, because their disability has not been catered for. But their conclusion is wrong – the idea is to implement as much accessibility as possible. We can build accessibility into a site incrementally. WCAG 1.0 is presented that way, with three levels of compliance.

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