I just became aware today, through the Guild of Accessible Web Designers newsletter, of an internet directory featuring exclusively accessible web sites. This is a great way to make the accessible web more usable for individuals with disabilities – although it has its limitations.
My first reaction, of course, is that in an ideal world, this would actually be equivalent to the Open Directory Project – because, of course, eventually all sites will be accessible! But, of course, for now, this is a very meaningful directory purely because there is such a paucity of meaningfully accessible web sites.
The only thing which will make this directory truly useful, however, will be to really start filling it up with great sites. I intend to submit my own accessible sites to the directory to maximize the potential of the site.
Directories are difficult beasts – they’re huge, unwieldy, and frequently just not used that much – search is much easier. However, developing a means to specifically search for accessible sites has a target audience which can really benefit from the difference, so I hope that this directory can take off.
Limitations to the Net Guide
The design of the site is literally LITTERED with empty table cells. This is, sad to say, a classic example of a highly complex and screen reader-unfriendly table-based layout.
Many links provide only a moderate background color change to indicate that they are active; no links have a useful indication for their :active or :focus states, which is necessary for keyboard navigators to easily locate their cursor.
All in all, the site has great potential; but has not yet realized that potential. I can see that they have a good aim in mind, and I fully support that ideal – but I also hope that they are working hard to improve the usability and accessibility of their own site in order to set a positive example.