access to the virtual farm…

…welcome to an open web site…


Being considerate and empathic is perceived by most as having positive qualities in the real world, so it becomes natural to extend those qualities to the virtual world. The web may have lost some of its universality over the last decade, but there's no need for barriers and exclusion zones on regular web sites.

Our real farm has access-ways for everyone, up to the points where free access would endanger both visitors and local inhabitants. Naturally we won't let anyone stray right into potentially dangerous situations, which is why farms have restricted areas guarded by fences, barriers and gates. Those who need access to restricted areas have their own passways, while the general public is limited to stay in safe areas.

Our web site also has a few restricted areas, but most of it is open to the public. The technical nature of the virtual world, means we have to look at everything from that angle, and make sure the word “open” really means what it says – technically.

Our aim is “equal access for all”, with no intentional discriminatory barriers – and rather not any unintentional barriers either. Thus, we look beyond what works on our own computers and screens and such, and consider other quite normal ways to approach and use a web site.

Any visitor can use any browser and/or other software they like – as long as it supports and adheres to basic HTML standards.

access for all…

It is of course not much of a deal to provide reasonably equal access for all on a simple, presentational, site like this. It is however extremely easy to make any web site pretty inaccessible, so the subject is always relevant.

I adhere to a minimalistic approach, in that I won't add anything that doesn't prevent access by its absence, and I wont subtract anything that doesn't prevent access by its presence.

I have taken advices from people and groups (in my own country) that may need some considerations regarding accessibility, and the sum of those advices are followed in order to make these pages technically well prepared and accessible for all visitors.

Individuals or groups are neither favored nor ignored, and neither content nor design are tailored for anything but ordinary, human, visitors.

The fact that we can't test how well our solutions work everywhere and for everyone, may result in unintentional barriers. If so, then we're sorry about that, but can't act unless we're being told about the problem.

practical solutions…

Hard-working dairy farmers are practical people and used to paving cow-paths and leveling fields, also when it comes to presentations on the web. Some of our virtual cow-paths and fields are listed below.

  1. Delivery of meaningful and well-organized content.

    Here I'm presenting content in a language I don't fully master, which complicates things a bit.

    I do my best to keep all sorts of errors to an absolute minimum, while trying to maximize the informational value.
  2. Few, if any, browser-functionalities are replicated in web pages.

    There's no point in adding functionality to pages in order to make browser-functionality redundant.

    If your don't know what your browser or other relevant software can do for you, then it might be a good idea to find out.
  3. No links are opened in “new windows” – or “new tabs” for that matter. Everything comes up in the same window, or tab, unless you choose otherwise.

    Forced opening of “new windows” and/or “new tabs” breaks the back button. Besides, the method may either not work as intended, or not at all.

    You can open new windows and/or tabs in your own browser.
    (I personally block all “new windows” attempts, on all sites.)
  4. No “skip to” links are provided.

    I wouldn't know what to “skip to” or “skip past” in these pages, because of the way they are organized.

    Your browser will let you “skip around” as you like on any web page. The most used form is known as “tabbing”.
  5. No accesskey attributes included.

    This particular shortcut-functionality may conflict with normal use of browsers and other relevant software.

    Short-cut conflicts makes a site less accessible, and accesskey is therefore subtracted because this functionality may prevent access by its presence.
  6. Images without “relevant alternative text” are allowed – in the right context.

    I most often use images to illustrate what's already written. Repeating existing text just to fill the alt-attribute, makes no sense whatsoever.

    Only informative images without complementary text, have context-relevant alternative text in the alt-attribute. Decorative images have no alternative text.
  7. The visual design matters as much as anything, on all levels.

    This site isn't really relying on anything but content-carrying source-code, and it will therefore stay visually intact and accessible at a “text only” level.

    Regardless of how little or how much of my design-ideas put into CSS, images, scripts etc. that actually get through to you, it will appear as intended.
  8. Alternative and/or additional material can be in any format.

    Amount, forms and formats are unrestricted, as long as the implementation doesn't preventing normal access to main content-parts and navigation.

    Additional audio, video, slides – you name it, may be added wherever and whenever I see fit. Such additions will always be optional – selectable, and as accessible as the actual form and format allow.

Since I'm not about to write a book about accessible virtual cow-paths and leveled web fields, you'll just have to take me on my word when I say that the above is low on details and covers a lot of ground when expanded to actual designs. However, that is not something visitors need to worry about.

basic restrictions…

There are a few basic restrictions, or limitations, in the digital world our web site resides in. These restrictions are elementary, and apply to all web sites and all web-users.

This is where each and every visitor comes in, as it doesn't matter much what a site has to offer if the minimum required means to transport and receive it aren't present all the way through to, and including, the visitor's end.

  1. Visitors are expected to have, or acquire, the minimum software, and hardware, required to extract data from the basic level of HTML and text, and convert it into whatever form suits individual wants and/or needs.

    If broken or totally inadequate software, or hardware, prevent proper access to any part of technically accessible sites, then the one(s) responsible should fix the software and hardware problems. Such problems at a visitor's end, is not any author's responsibility.

    Once a site is technically accessible with original or equivalent content and functionality on the basic level, it is by definition “accessible”.
  2. Visitors are expected to have, or acquire, the minimum knowledge and skills necessary to use their own tools.

    Whatever the web is – it isn't a kindergarten for grown-ups that have lost interest in learning new skills.

    Visitors who don't know how to use their software, hardware and whatever else they need, should either learn on their own or get help from someone who does master these basic skills.
  3. Adjustments for weak software and/or hardware can not be expected.

    Web sites should not be downgraded below the point of working properly for the majority of end-users, even if weak end-user solutions can't handle them.

    Proprietary solutions of any kind – old or completely new, are their creators' and owners' responsibility.
  4. Imaginary barriers – like someone finding these pages less accessible because they don't like how content and navigation is organized and presented, or have other objections based on personal preferences – are not considered.

    I categorically refuse to make assumptions about, or casually adjust to, how anyone in particular would like to access, use or experience this web site.

    Catering for imaginary barriers is often counterproductive, and may end up degrading overall quality and accessibility for no good reason.
  5. Content is delivered “as is”.

    Content is produced and edited in accordance with our own knowledge, technology and preferences. It is our prerogative to decide what goes on line and in which form, and what doesn't.

    We generally do not claim neutrality on any issues we touch on, and can't be expected to aim for, or adjust to, any form of neutrality regarding form or substance.

These basic restrictions are not really restrictions at all. They are just common-sense guides down the virtual cow-paths, and as such they prevent sensible people from losing track and traction, mess up things and end up in the mud.

Some web designers will mess up and get muddy no matter what, but that's not something I will seriously consider to be my problem – accessibility-wise or otherwise. I will however do my best not to let visitors to my sites suffer.

all things considered…

So, I have done my best to create an informative, light, well-working and accessible web site. As for most web sites: it is a site in constant change, so no final version will ever be made. This means I'll have to keep up all sides of it, and continuously update and upgrade to take advantage of new technology and software. Sounds good to me.

There may still be unintentional, and technically avoidable, barriers on our site. If you find any that aren't readily solved at your end, then do not hesitate to let me know by mailing me at, and I'll see what I can do.

If you have read the entire article before ending up here, you know that regular access isn't much of a problem. If your software hasn't revealed the navigation already, then you'll find it further down on this page – below links to more information and a few additional and relevant comments on the subjects I've touched on in this article.

sincerely  georg; sign

Hageland 07.nov.2007
last rev: 17.nov.2007

access to the virtual farm…


solicitous: mindful of the needs, wishes, and feelings of others
— msn Encarta

understanding of another's feelings: the ability to identify with and understand somebody else's feelings or difficulties
— msn Encarta

equivalent: having the same effect, application, or meaning as somebody or something else
— msn Encarta

useful information:

more information:

If everyone invented their own, perfect, solutions to all accessibility-related problems, then none of the solutions would work because of all compatibility-problems they inevitably would introduce.
Going from the old browser-war into an accessibility-war isn't difficult. That's why I left the battle for perfection in this field, as I dislike easy but fragile solutions.
— Georg

I have unrestricted access to pastures, food, water and shelters, and very few restrictions everywhere else.
Come join me on a round-trip.
— Gyda 'the black n' white cow'

I got free access to the farmyard once, and it hasn't looked the same since.
— Ronald 'the young Jersey bull'

author's note #1:

I don't think accessibility-statements as such are of much use to anyone. I expect each and every visitor to be able to figure out, and judge on, the reality for themself.

The reasoning and actual process may however be of interest to some, and that is why I have written some about how we handle accessibility-issues on our site.
— Georg

author's note #2:

I have an agnostic view on most things related to web design – including accessibility issues. Thus, I'm not easily persuaded by arguments for or against anything until reasonably reliable facts are presented, and checked.

This may keep me behind in “the game”, but I'm not particularly worried about my place in the final outcome.
Besides: “the game” itself will always be a mix of progress and regress, and can never be definitely lost or won.
— Georg

author's note #3:

I don't think an author should use neutral language so as not to offend anyone with an ability or disability. Doing so will inevitably lead to an unnatural language.

Same goes for most well-intended practices where potentially offensive words and phrases in everyday languages are replaced with “neutral” ones. Not much left of any language if such replacement-practices are taken far.

Believe me: it is hard enough to write somewhat naturally in a – for me – foreign language. I certainly don't want to make it harder by adding in any form of “neutrality”.
— Georg

…2000 - 2007