Ots Labs believes in the freedom of information for all individuals and has been a long-time supporter, specifically, of the blind (non-sighted) community with many users of Ots Labs software representing this community.
Whether you are sighted or non-sighted, we have tried to create our websites in a manner that makes reading and searching for information easy and painless. In designing the Ots Labs sites, we have attempted to follow various policy objectives. Some of these objectives and specific features of our websites are listed below:
The W3C is the organisation that sets the standards upon which the world wide web operates. Designing a great website is about far more than merely making it look good in a common browser for a typical user. Accessibility and interoperability for all parties forms part of W3C's mission.
Ots Labs strives to produce W3C-compliant pages on our sites. By clicking the following W3C logo you can see the validation status of this web page:
Ots Labs no longer uses links which forceably open in a new browser window as this is against W3C guidelines since research has found that it causes annoyance for most users. When clicking a link on the Ots Labs sites, hold the Control key on your keyboard if you wish to open the target page in a new tab in your browser. Otherwise, simply use the "back" button of your browser to return after checking out the page.
The following navigational features are used within the Ots Labs websites:
All pages contain the Ots Labs header which makes it quick and easy to get to various key sites or sections. It is also possible to search the Ots Labs site family by using the search form built into this header.
All pages, excluding the home (front) page of each site, contain a trace at the top of the page just above the page heading. This trace is known as breadcrumbs and makes it very easy to see exactly where you are within the hierarchy of the site or go back to a higher-level page.
All Ots Labs site-family pages contain a top menu which makes it obvious and easy to go to top-level sections of the current site with a single click.
All non-home pages, if part of a distinct section, contain a side menu at the upper right-hand side of the page that allows for easy navigation within the current section of the site.
All pages on the Ots Labs sites contain a unified set of footer links which can be used to get to important, but less frequently required pages. One such link is the Site Map, which provides an overview with links of the entire Ots Labs websites hierarchy.
The Ots Labs sites have been designed with easy readibility in mind. Although dark backgrounds may look "cool" and be appropriate for some websites, research constantly shows that dark text on light backgrounds is more easily readable and causes less eye-strain.
The following features of the Ots Labs sites are of benefit to non-sighted individuals using screen-reading software and also to those users who use text-only browsers within a console environment:
Ots Labs strives to always use alt tags with appropriately descriptive text for images which form more than mere cosmetic purposes. This allows text-only readers to understand the context of the image despite not being able to view it.
At the top of each Ots Labs website page are two links designed to facilitate easy reading for non-sighted or text-only readers. The first link allows jumping directly to the "main content" section of the page, bypassing the global header, banner and other navigation constructs. The second link similarly allows jumping directly to the top menu. These links are invisible to viewers using standard browers.
Ots Labs recommends that readers of our websites use the latest version of their chosen browser to hopefully minimise browser compliance and rendering bugs and enjoy a more complete browsing experience of the Ots Labs (and other) sites. Whether you are using Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Apple Safari or another browser, please use the latest version. The same applies to Microsoft Internet Explorer. Specifically on the latter, Ots Labs is no longer supporting versions of IE6 or earlier, and support for IE7 is interim. We recommend IE8 or one of the other browsers mentioned.
Where possible, Ots Labs recommends that you use the page zoom feature of most modern browsers if you need to increase the text size of page content as this faithfully preserves aesthetic formatting and structure which isn't always the case when using mere text size settings.
Please note that our new sites were launched in September 2009 and may contain legacy or non-updated page sections that do not always meet our objectives as outlined above. We expect to continue updating our site and your patience is appreciated while we attempt to build a site that completely meets all stated goals.