Under forthcoming laws, anyone - whether able-bodied or in need of aids when using a computer - must have the same access to any information. Screen readers, enhanced keyboards, and additional software can all be used - but, if basic navigation and interface design is poor, the goal of reaching as many readers as possible is undermined. For Web designers, the LIFT - NN/g Edition Pro Suite claims to take the guesswork out of applying usability and accessibility guidelines by identifying common issues and automating most of the fixes.

The Neilson Norman Group and the W3C have combined in LIFT Pro for Dreamweaver to help designers develop and maintain accessible sites. Rebuilding an existing site can take much longer than complying with the guidelines in the initial development stage. It has been created by drawing on extensive research from studies of user-interface design, and from watching people with disabilities using Web sites.

For example, long cascading menus can frustrate users with disabilities, as can tiny font sizes for the poor-sighted.

The LIFT extension for Macromedia Dreamweaver MX provides basic templates for layout, covering everything from shopping carts to catalogues to slideshows. It includes a JavaScript analyzer, and allows the designer to customize reports to corporate guidelines. A Fix Wizard will run through an existing Web site's code using pre-defined guidelines. It also offers hints and recommendations for improving existing mark-up language.

You can customize tests for changing font size, button size or image properties. A LIFT Online service is also available for developers to monitor Web sites for accessibility on an ongoing basis.


If you don't want a Web site to be inaccessible to people with disabilities, now?s the time to make sure the Web really is wide open.

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