Getting started with practical web accessibility, section 1 Twelve simple rules:

Limitations of the rules

The twelve rules discussed here are a useful starting point. They demonstrate what work with accessibility means, and they deal with relevant problems and solutions. They are also useful in continued practice, should you decide to stick to such basic issues for the time being. It is not a bad idea to do so for some months before starting to study advanced accessibility. That way, you will have some routine with the basics, and you will probably have noticed some accessibility issues that are not covered by the rules.

Among other things, the rules do not discuss the following topics:

As you probably guess from this rather incomplete list, there is much more to be learned in accessibility. After learning more about accessibility, you might write your own additions or extensions to the twelve rules, or a different set of basic rules for yourself or your organization. On many sites, some additional rules might well be more important than the twelve rules.

We will here apply the rules to the FAQ (answers to Frequently Asked Questions) about a chemical compound, by the World Health Organization (WHO). Of course, by the time you read this, the page might be quite different; for your reference, I have created a a copy of the WHO page as analyzed here.

The analysis here will consider both specific issues on this very page and the general design of WHO pages reflected in it.

The page URL is We mention this because URLs are an accessibility issue, too. Although a URL is technically just a string that acts as an address of a resource, it will often be seen by users and perhaps copied, sometimes even by hand. Thus, it should be fairly understandable and short. In this case, the part /foodsafety/publications/chem in the path reflects the site’s technical organization, instead of the page content and purpose.

The page appearance, on Internet Explorer 7 (IE 7) in full screen mode, is the following:

(Image: screen shot of the page discussed)