Compliance Sheriff FAQs have been compiled to assist experienced web designers with interpreting test results.
- Compliant Sheriff Site Sections
- Using Compliant Sheriff
- Warning and Violations
1. Compliant Sheriff Site Sections
The dashboard is your personal home page within Compliance Sheriff. You can customize it to show the results of any or all of your Compliance Sheriff Views.
Scans are defined sets of tests that can be ran to test your site for accessibility, privacy, and site quality. Scans can be run as needed or can be regularly scheduled. Scans should not be confused with Monitors or Views.
A monitor is similar to a scan, but is intended to test for just a few things, much more frequently. While a Scan can run an exhaustive set of checks, a Monitor should test for a few key items. A suggested use of a monitor might be to check for spelling errors or broken links. Monitors can be set to notify users of violations as they are found, or at regular intervals.
Checkpoints are individual standards and guidelines that can be selected to scan for. They can be selected in Checkpoint Groups, such as all checkpoints for WCAG 1.0 Priority 1, on individually. Scans and Monitors use checkpoints as the basis of their testing.
A View is a customized report of results from a Scan and Monitor. These reports may display all of the results, or may display a subset of those results. They cannot display checkpoints that were not specifically selected in the Scan or Monitor.
A system for notifying users of results of Scans and Monitors. Notifications are based on Views and can be set to notify users based on runs of the scan/monitor, or at regular intervals.
The Repair section uses a scripts to make repairs a site from a specific scan. It is intended to fix minor site-wide problems like missing Doctype, and cannot be used for most page specific violations.
Settings section is mostly for the administration of Compliance Sheriff. You may also use this section to change your password, or to edit User Dictionaries. This allows you to add words to the dictionary Compliance Sheriff uses to check spelling against. Adding words to this dictionary will not remove spelling violations from an existing Scan or Monitor, but will remove them from future runs.
The Admin section is for the administration or users and groups. It can only be accessed by the ITD administrators of Compliance Sheriff.
2. Using Compliant Sheriff
I've logged in, now what?
My Scan shows a status of "Failed", what's that mean?
The Scan ran successfully, but your site had violations. If you check the View for that scan, you can see the specific violations that were found.
The page count of my Scan shows twice as many pages as the site has, why is that?
Why is my base URL http://www.nd.gov, when my site is in a subdirectory?
Compliance Sheriff starts with a domain root as the base URL, then we refine that scan within the scan settings with a "Include URL's matching:" statement.
Can I have more than one view for a Scan or Monitor, and why would I do that?
Yes you can. Multiple Views of a Scan or Monitor would allow you to view subsets of results, making identifying problems easier. This could also be used to pass specific types of violations to specific users.
- Once you've logged in, you'll be looking at your Dashboard with links to the various site sections. As part of the setting up your account, ITD will have added the Scans, Monitors, Views, and Notifications you requested. These are available using Compliance Sheriff's navigation.
- By selecting the Scans tab, you will see all of your available scans, when they ran last, and when they are scheduled to run next.
- A Scan can be edited to use different checkpoints, and URL inclusions and exclusions can be added to a site to increase accuracy of testing.
- The scheduling of that Scan can be edited from this page, allowing more or less frequent scans, or one time scans for a specific purpose.
- The Monitors tab will show you all of your available monitors, when they ran last, and when they are scheduled to run next.
- The Monitor's checkpoints can be changed
- The scheduling of that Monitor can be edited from this page, allowing more or less frequent Monitoring.
- On the Views tab you will see all of your current Views, each with links to a preview or report. The preview link will give you a quick overview of a report while the report will open a new page with the complete results.
- Views can be edited or added to change the way information is displayed
- Views can be added to display subsets of results if required
- The notifications page allows you to add, edit or delete notifications associated with Views
- The Admin page will allow you to edit your password
- The admin page will also give you access to user dictionaries. If one of your Scans or Monitors is identifying spelling errors incorrectly, those words can be added to the dictionary. This often happens for proper names, parts of URL's, and foreign words. Adding them to the dictionary will keep them from being identified incorrectly on future runs of the Scans and Monitors.
3. Warnings and Violations
Fixing accessibility and site quality violations requires detailed knowledge of the subject. This section of the FAQ isn't intended to give detailed information about fixing all violations, but to help identify what may be causing the violation.
- How do I resolve the message "A text-only page, with equivalent information or functionality, shall be provided..."
- This is a warning, not a violation. Text-only pages are a requirement for pages that cannot otherwise be made accessible. If the page can be made accessible, then text-only versions are not required. If you address all accessibility issues, then this warning can be safely ignored. This warning by itself will not cause an accessibility test failure.
- What are "non-W3C formats"?
- Some image types are not covered by W3C specification. That isn't a violation, but a warning. JPG and GIF format are commonly used online, and are not W3C formats. If you receive this warning, verify that the graphic or document is used appropriately.
- What are "deprecated attributes" or "deprecated technologies"?
- Deprecated code, attributes, and technologies were once acceptable and valid code but are no longer acceptable. Deprecated attributes will likely be the most commonly seen issue. Deprecated attributes should almost exclusively be replaced by CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). This could be inline CSS, but using class attributes, ID attributes, or descendent selectors in an external CSS would be a better solution.
Image and Alt Attribute Violations
- Why can't an image have an empty Alt attribute?
- Technically, decorative images can have empty alt attributes. Using CSS for decorative images is a better solution, but no violation will be triggered for an inline image that is strictly decorative and has an empty Alt attribute. It's possible that Compliance Sheriff isn't recognizing the decorative nature of the image. To clear this error the HTML can be edited to clarify the decorative nature, or the image can be placed with CSS.
- What is “ASCII Art" and why isn't it allowed in ALT attributes?
- ASCII Art is using HTML text and symbols arranged in a pattern to portray a non-text picture when viewed on the screen. ASCII Art is not accessible because it relies entirely on a visual presentation. Screen readers and other accessibility tools will not be able to present this information to a user. A violation for ASCII Art in Alt attributes refers to an Alt attribute which contains only symbols.
- Why do I need a "skip navigation link"?
- he ability to skip over long repetitive or irrelevant blocks of content is an important accessibility concept. It allows screen readers and users who use keyboard navigation to avoid having to pass through the entire site navigation on each page of the site to read content.
- What's wrong with “Two or more links to different resources contain the same text"?
- Link text should be understandable without additional context. If the same text is used on several different links, it can be confusing when those links are seen or heard out of context.
- My site doesn't have an accessibility link, what is it looking for?
- Compliance Sheriff is looking for linked text to verify the existence of an accessibility page. To be specific, it's looking for an A tag containing the word "Accessibility".
- What do I do about the message "All pages that have links to files that require a special reader or plug-in..."
- This message can be triggered by a variety of linked content. If a page contains PDF's, MS Word or MS Excel files among others, Compliance Sheriff will check to see if the page also links to where you can download software to load those files. The test is looking for specific linked text to verify that you have linked to the appropriate plug in or software. The required linked text should contain "download" and the name of the required software. (i.e. "download" and "adobe acrobat" for a PDF)
Forms and Scripting Violations
- Why do I need NOSCRIPT?
- The NOSCRIPT tag provides alternate content for users with scripting disabled or without scripting ability. It allows them access to scripted functionality or to identify alternate content that would otherwise be missed.
- Why can't I have my form submit on an action?
- Not all users interact with a web site in the same fashion. Some use keyboard navigation, while others might use screen readers or other accessibility features. Associating form submission with an action may limit the user’s ability to properly fill out a form, or keep them from doing so entirely.
- What is a "device dependent event handler"?
- It is an event handler that requires a specific device to trigger an action. An example would be an "onMouseOut" event, which can only be triggered by someone with a mouse. This device dependency limits accessibility. If an event handler is required, use both mouse and keyboard specific handlers.
- Why do I need to provide submit buttons?
- Forms by their nature are intended to be submitted. This violation falls into one of two types. Either a form that is missing a submit button is broken, or the form tag is being used contrary to the specification. Both of these are accessibility errors. A true form should have a submit button (even if it is styled to be unobtrusive) or another HTML element that can be used to replace the inappropriately used form element.
- Why do all "visible INPUT elements" require a label?
- While the input elements may make sense in the context of the viewed page, they will probably not make sense when read by a screen reader or other accessibility tool. Without a label there is no way to tell what the context is, or what input is expected.
- Why do all "Object elements" and "IFrame elements" require element content?
- Not all browsers and accessibility tools will correctly load Object and IFrame elements. Without element content, there is no way for a viewer using one of these tools to identify missing content.
- What does "Use header elements to convey document structure" mean?
- An HTML document should use a hierarchical structure to define content. You will get this type of violation on WCAG 1.0 if you do not use headings, or if you don't use them hierarchically. There should be only one or two h1 headings, and all other headings should be nested sequentially. (h2s under h1s, h4s under h3s, etc.)
- Why is a "definition list with term descriptions but without a starting term" a problem?
- One of the keystones of accessibility is that HTML is used according to specification. When testing shows definition lists with no definition terms or no descriptions, it suggests that the page is using HTML contrary to specification. This error is commonly seen in older sites that used definition lists for navigation. Unordered lists are a better choice for this purpose and avoiding this violation.
- What's wrong with using Absolute Units?
- Absolute units such as pixels or points can force fonts to display at sizes that are not legible to some people. While the zoom feature in most modern browsers can generally bypass this limitation, changing the font size in the computer or browser settings will often fail to address this issue. Rather than using absolute units, define font and container sizes using relative units such as percent (%) and EMS (em).
- How can I not be using "headings according to specification"?
- Headings (H1-H6) are intended for use in conveying the structure of the document. You will get this violation if you appear to be using headings for graphic or layout purposes rather than structurally. This can be a subjective violation, and may be a false positive. If you get this violation, look for non-sequential use of headings, as this will often be the cause.
- What's wrong with specifying foreground color but not background color, or background color but not foreground color?
- You should never rely on a browser's default color choices to be correct. They may be unintentionally changed, or even inappropriate by default. By defining both background and foreground colors, you control the color contrast ratio and ensure proper visibility.
- Why do I need data table captions with data tables?
- Without the proper association, these items may not be properly identified as related. This might leave your data unusable to your audience if they can't identify what the data is or why it's relevant.
- How do I use markup to associate data cells and header cells?
- There are two acceptable methods for associating data cells to header cells. For simple data tables, the use of the Scope attribute will be sufficient. For more complex tables with multiple levels of headers, the Headers attribute must be used. Even with the headers attribute, complex data tables can be difficult to understand for both normal users and those who can't see the overall layout of the table. Simplifying complex tables into multiple simple data tables will often make the information much more accessible to everyone.
- What's wrong with a layout table using structural markup?
- A table either needs to be a layout table or a data table. A layout table has minimal accessibility requirements because it is only for display. A data table has extensive accessibility requirements because presentation is the key to understanding the data. If you use structural markup like <th> tags in a layout table, you risk confusing the two types of tables.