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Achieve Accessibility with Dreamweaver

By Virginia DeBolt

Install Helpful Extensions

On the day the following screen shot was taken, Macromedia Exchange offered 46 extensions related to Accessibility in Dreamweaver. Not all are free, but they are worth exploring to see if they will help with your particular needs.

Dreamweaver Exchange

Smart Link is one of many helpful extensions available from Macromedia Exchange. In Dreamweaver, the Smart Link dialog box gives you the following options.

smart link

Smart Link converts an existing link so the target page opens in a new browser window. It works in a similar way to the Dreamweaver Open Browser Window behavior, or using target="_blank", but gives you far more control over its look and position. Although it uses JavaScript, it is smart enough to work even if JavaScript is disabled, by opening the page in the same window. This keeps your site accessible to everyone, and is far more user-friendly than a link that doesn't work at all. It also has the advantage of keeping your pages valid, unlike target="_blank" which has been deprecated by the W3C.

To be accessible, pages should work if JavaScript is disabled. In most browsers, you can deselect the JavaScript option quickly, as in this Firefox preference option.

Firefox Preferences for JavaScript

Test your pages with JavaScript disabled to be sure your navigation and other functions are usable. Some of the assistive browsing devices in use by people with disabilities do not understand JavaScript.


Two valuable tools are available from UseableNet.

  • LIFT for Dreamweaver from UsableNet. A $299 tool that helps make complex data tables 508 compliant. Lift will assign table headers with IDs, and then "intelligently" bind them to the appropriate cells.
  • Free Dreamweaver extensions from UsableNet will do Section 508 and W3C/WCAG checks. The following commands are added to Dreamweaver with the free extensions.
Usable Net commands

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