April 8, 2003 --
In last week's E-letter, we looked at how universal design resources are beginning to change the housing market -- particularly with a concept known as "visitability." But universal design -- design not specifically "for the disabled" but design that works for the largest group of users, has also affected web design. "Liquid web design" is the term for web design that works with the largest number of "interfaces." It also happens to ensure that the design is accessible to people with disabilities.
None of this is directly related to disability. It's simply acknowledgement of the fact that people in general use various ways of accessing the web. People with vision disabilities use text-based browsers and screen readers. But WebTV subscribers, and people with hand-held PDAs run into the same problems. Liquid web design as a concept developed parallel to "accessible" web design -- it's based on the same concepts, but it doesn't focus specifically on users with disabilities but all users, in general.
"Build it right and it will work, no matter what the "container'" says designer Nick Finck in Digital web online magazine. Read Finck's tutorial on liquid web design at http://www.digital-web.com/tutorials/tutorial_1999-10.shtml Another good article can be found at http://www.evolt.org/article/Liquid_Design_for_the_Web/20/15177/ Web designer Carmen Mardiros has links to a number of articles about liquid web design on her website.
Earlier E-Letters on web accessibility include "Federal website usability not yet up to speed," with links to more articles.