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30 steps to a more accessible website

Step 4: Introducing Lillian

Lillian is a mature overseas student from Hong Kong. She is 54 years old, a widow, and has spent a significant proportion of her savings to study for an MBA by distance learning over three years. She lives in Hong Kong with her daughter, her son-in-law, and her 2-year-old grandson. Her daughter and son-in-law are fluently bilingual, but English is not Lillian's first language and she still struggles with it, preferring her native Cantonese. When she is not playing with her grandson, she tries to improve her English skills by reading the newspaper. She spreads it out on the kitchen table, turns on the 100 watt overhead light, and reads it with a magnifying glass.

Lillian works as an office assistant in a worldwide telecommunications conglomerate. Their IT department has just completed a worldwide migration to Windows XP and internet Explorer 6, and is expected to be grumpier than usual for the next 9 months. They have also implemented new internet security policies: no Java, no Javascript, no Flash, no ActiveX controls, except on IT-approved sites, of which there are none. Technically, this means that all sites are in the Restricted zone in Internet Explorer's Security tab, that Restricted sites have all scripting turned off, and that you need administrative access to add a site to your Trusted zone.

Needless to say, Lillian does not have administrative access, and she has not been able to persuade her IT department that they should add her MBA website to the list of officially approved sites.

She does, however, have a 19-inch monitor, against the strenuous objections of Matt in IT, who reminds Lillian at every opportunity that he had to carry it up three flights of stairs because the lift was out of order that day. He says it in a nice way, though. Lillian likes Matt; he's the nicest of the bunch, and he even once set her text size to "Larger" in Internet Explorer, so now her daughter's weblog is actually large enough to be readable. She reads it every day. But when she asked Matt why she couldn't make her MBA course home page any larger, Matt launched into one of his geek tirades with lots of big technical words, got very frustrated, and finally said there was nothing he could do.

Lillian wishes she could read more websites, and she would especially like it if the sites she needs to read for her studies could have bigger text, but if Matt can't fix it, no one can.

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This guide is adapted from Dive Into Accessibility by Mark Pilgrim and is shared with the GNU Free Documentation License v1.1