Thursday, March 13, 2008

Five Accessibility Tips For Ajax-based Website Interfaces

AJAX or Asynchronous JavaScript and XML, is an innovative way of using existing technologies to create highly interactive web applications.

AJAX allows portions of the page to be updated without having to refresh and reload the entire page. It can increase site performance significantly and provide cutting edge user interfaces.

Unfortunately it can also be a source of concern for delivering fully accessible web sites.

What is AJAX?

AJAX is not a new technology in itself but a new approach to programming websites based on the following web standards:

* JavaScript
* XML
* HTML / XHTML
* CSS

The key word is asynchronous - AJAX applications work 'behind the scenes' with the web server to dynamically update the content of a web page.

JavaScript plays an important role in this process, trading data with the server and manipulating the information on the page.

Accessibility Benefits of AJAX

As well as significantly improving the user experience AJAX applications can also enhance accessibility. For example:

* Auto-suggest dropdowns can help both users with reading difficulties and motor impairments

* Drag & drop sliders can help users with reading difficulties due to their illustrative nature"    (Continued via Robin Good, Brigitte Simard)    [Usability Resources]

A click-and-drag slider is used to filter search criteria Screenshot of Amazon drag & drop sliders. - Usability, User Interface Design

A click-and-drag slider is used to filter search criteria Screenshot of Amazon drag & drop sliders.

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