While there are accessibility obstacles that can be mitigated by hardware and software applications, some obstacles can only be remedied by creating a thoughtful website design.

screen shot of ergo in demand dot com

Take a look at this website for Ergo In Demand. This screen shot shows a flawed website design. To begin with, there are two product navigational bars. No hardware or software solution can mitigate the confusion that elderly users may experience because of this. Navigational crises can only be solved by the designer by creating a logical layout and hierarchy for all navigational links.

Second, take a look at the last row of links in the top, horizontal navigation bar. In the screen shot presented here the white textual links flow into the main body which is also white. When viewing this website in your own browser, you may not encounter this program. The variance here is caused by a lack of strict font-size and/or font-weight values set by the designer. While there is an argument in favor of allowing such variations so that users can adjust the text size for themselves, try designing a website so that such adjustments are not needed. This way, the designer maintains a greater level of control over the layout of the page.

If a designer feels compelled to give control over font-size and color/contract to the user, the NIH Senior Health gives an example of how to accomplish this goal while providing a simple, easy-to-learn interface.

screen shot of N I H dot gov
Using cascading stylesheets and Javascript, the designer has allowed users to control the text size, the contrast, and has also allowed users to access a type of screen reader. All of these controls are available in a toolbar located at the top of the page. Take a look at the full site and play around with the text size. Notice how the overall layout and design principles are not affected by these changes. The screen reader enables users to hear audio output for all textual elements simply by placing the cursor over the desired item. Furthermore, the screen reader lets the user know where s/he has navigated to by repeating the navigational sequence of events.