Accessible Recovery?

I was asked by a friend to take a look at yesterday. To be honest, I was disappointed. While it is a pretty site, it isn't nearly as accessible as it should be.

Here's a few things that I see that should really be fixed.

  1. Content is not organized using headings as it could be. That would improve the ability of screen readers to navigate.
  2. Color contrast is low in a number of areas. Difficult for the partially sighted to read.
  3. No default language is defined.
  4. Form controls need to be associated with labels.
  5. In-line images are used as bullets rather than controlling with CSS. This can be awkward for screenreaders
  6. The very clever looking sliding timeline at the bottom of the page is not keyboard navigable, making it unaccessible to anyone using a traditional browser without a mouse. I do see that it's replaced with a table version if you have JavaScript disabled, which is a nice touch, but  that doesn't cover everyone.
  7. Skip Links should be fixed to work in Internet Explorer, and made visible at least on focus. (added (4/22)

There are some other minor issues, but those six bullet points cover the important ones I see. There is an accessibility page, but unfortunately it's been mostly used to make a political statement.

The Obama Administration has a comprehensive agenda to empower individuals with disabilities in order to equalize opportunities for all Americans.

A wonderful goal, but that's not what accessibility pages are for. This is to explain accessibility functionality in general, and specifically for the site. There is a bit of that at the end, but not enough. This site should be a perfect example of accessibility. Don't say that you want to "empower individuals with disabilities", do it. Empower individuals with disabilities by giving them the means to access the information on your website. I see this site as a wonderful opportunity... missed.

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It is disappointing, and most of what you list is basic stuff. Unfortunately it seems to be the case that very few organisations are even paying lip-service to web site accessibility.
After almost 10 years of the Disability Discrimination Act applying to websites in the UK, we should be at the point where fine tuning is being done, and new technologies are being made accessible (and dare I say it, software in general) but instead we are still bashing away at getting the basics sorted.