New software helps in building of accessible Web sites

UsableNet and Nielsen Norman Group, a user-experience "think tank" that advises companies on how to succeed through human-centered design of products and services, are offering new Mac compatible software designed to simplify the building of accessible Web sites.

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According to a July HTML Writers Guild survey, almost 50 percent of Web developers consider Web site accessibility for people with disabilities an absolute requirement. However, sites today remain three times harder to use for users with disabilities than for other users according to test data from Nielsen Norman Group. The new software, LIFT-Nielsen Norman Group Edition, is designed to help rectify the situation. It runs on Macromedia Dreamweaver under various operating systems, including Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X.

LIFT-Nielsen Norman Group Edition offers an integrated design wizard to include usability guidelines, said Jakob Nielsen, Web usability expert and principal of Nielsen Norman Group. The software identifies common usability issues related to accessibility, then presents and automates recommended fixes based upon research conducted last year by Nielsen Norman Group. The tool also includes World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and guidelines recommended in Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1974.

All LIFT-Nielsen Norman Group Edition features work within Macromedia Dreamweaver to allow seamless testing and repair. It offers access to researched usability knowledge based on user testing. LIFT's-Fix Wizard automates the repair process with a step-by-step tool that guides developers through the repair of tables, images, scripts, tabbing order, cascading menus and more.

The Monitor Checks work as it's done and a JavaScript Analyzer is designed to help Web site designers avoid common errors when using JavaScript. The ALT Text Editor manages all images across a Web site with automated and global ALT editing tool.

LIFT-Nielsen Norman Group Edition is available now, as is a demo version. The price is US $549.

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