Tuesday 09 July 2002

Accessibility tip 16: Ignore spacer images

Mark Pilgrim writes:

Lots of people use transparent spacer images to control the layout of their weblog in visual browsers. You may use as many as you like, but you need to explicitly specify an empty alt attribute on each spacer image so that non-visual browsers know to ignore them.

No siree Bob (sorry, Mark). No spacer images in this neck of the woods. No smoke or mirrors either. Just pure and natural CSS (well, 95% pure, anyways).

Getting that out of the way frees me up to talk about another accessibility issue that cropped up last week: making data tables accessible.

Dreamweaver MX has an Accessibility preference setting that allows you to “Show Attributes” when inserting form objects, frames, media, images, and tables. With this preference turned on for tables, once you’ve chosen the basic table attributes (rows, columns, width, border, cell padding, cell spacing) the following dialog appears:

Dreamweaver MX: Table Accessibility Options Dialog

This makes it a snap to add a caption, include a summary, and set the headers for any data table I create. I’ve modified the accesskeys compliance table accordingly.

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