This site was built in 1998 and is still going strong on the original code.

The Healing Hands site has been designed to be accessible to everyone. To this end we used cascading style sheets and strict HTML 4.0 as much as possible (while making some allowances for style and legacy browsers). But we took things one step further. We designed the site to be dynamic. By that we mean that each page on the site is created on-the-fly for each individual user. And because we can tell which browser a visitor is using, we can adjust the pages automatically to suit the requirements of that browser. This means both avoiding problems and taking advantage of advanced capabilities when available.

We've incorporated many accessibility features. Some of these are quite technical. We've added the alt attribute to all images, used abbr and acronym tags, included title a ttributes where we thought it would clarify things, and used the tabindex attribute to organize links or form inputs into logical sequences. Although we've used images for some links and we have an image map on the home page, alt attributes are set for all of them and redundant links are provided at the bottom of each page.

Some of the things we've done to make the site more accessible also increase navigability. For example, all pages have a "page locator" which shows the position of the current page in the site hierarchy, with each page above it a link. All pages have a link to the Healing Hands email address at the bottom, as well as a link to the site map. You are never more than two jumps away from any other page on the site. Attention to detail should be evident throughout the site. Headings are carefully nested, colors chosen for high contrast, and the font size (on browsers that support stylesheets) is larger than normal for better readability.

We've also allowed for differences of opinion, particularly in the area of keyboard shortcuts. Those using Internet Explorer may be aware that page designers can designate keyboard shortcuts for links on the page (using the accesskey attribute). As far as we know, Internet Explorer is the only popular browser that supports this functionality. We like it, and we wanted to provide it. But there is some controversy about the use of keyboard shortcuts (jump keys). So we made use of them optional, and set the default to OFF.

If you come to the Healing Hands site with an accesskey-enabled browser, you will find only one accesskey set: the J key has been reserved to provide an activation key for the keyboard shortcuts. Using the J (for jump) key, the user can activate accesskeys. This reloads the page with accesskey attributes set. The user can then use the X (for index) key to display a list of available accesskeys for the current page. Using this feature, the user can toggle accesskeys on and off as necessary to access other keyboard shortcuts.

For example, on Internet Explorer on a PC, choosing Alt-H pulls down the Help menu. With an H jump key set, however, the keyboard shortcut for the help menu is overridden. Using our system, however, simply tapping the Alt-J key deactivates the jump keys, permitting access to the help menu via the H key. Tapping Alt-J again (Command-J on a Mac), restores the jump keys.

For more information on accessible web sites, visit the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Accessibility Initiative.

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