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I was looking at the W3C's accessibility standards (http://www.w3.org/TR/WAI-WEBCONTENT/) one night, and then I realized that the Everything 2 implementation of the Everything Web System restricts the available tags so much that it becomes impossible for ordinary users (i.e. users not in the 'gods' usergroup; hereinafter "users") to create accessible writeups.

Good points

  • E2 presents most of its information through text, which is considered universally accessible.
  • E2 uses stylesheets for presentation. When it uses tables for layout, the information largely appears in an order that makes sense even if all table markup is removed.
  • Alt text makes the titles accessible to text browser users. Even the banners have alt text equivalents. (To place 100,000 impressions for $500, visit http://everydevel.com/?node=media+kit)
  • Most structural alternatives (e.g. strong, em, kbd) to inline presentational markup (e.g. b, i, tt) are available.

Bad points that apply to all of E2

The markup language (primarily a subset of HTML) that noders use to format writeups has a few missing features.

  • No support for user-created presentational CSS markup. Thus, there is no way to format poetry without using false markup such as blockquote and dl elements.
  • No MathML support. How are we supposed to add mathematical formulas that look pretty?
  • No way to identify the natural language of a span of text. Normally, HTML uses <span lang="fr">...</span> to identify French text; because E2 turns off the span tag, that doesn't work.
  • No markup for tabular data (compare HTML's <table> tag); <pre> tags are a poor substitute and provide no way for user agents to move across the table in a logical way.

Bad points that apply only to E2's web interface

xunker told me that E2 now has an XML interface (see clientdev), making it much easier to write an assistive device designed specifically for E2. Nevertheless, these problems remain in E2's web interface:

  • The pages that the server generates don't strictly validate to the HTML 4.01 standard. There's so much invalid HTML on Everything2 it's not funny. http://validator.w3.org/ is your friend. (yerricde told me that edev members can see the details at E2 Validation.)
  • E2's CSS specifies absolute pixel sizes for text. Some people have visual impairments and can't see 12-point text on a CRT that easily, and some web browsers won't let users zoom in on pixel-sized text.
  • No way to provide links to skip past ASCII art, which frustrates screen reader users. Links like [node#named-section|displayed] would help immensely.
If E2 wants to be useful to people with disabilities, the EveryDevel team has some work to do.

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