Note: The Visually Disabled here refers to people with weak eyesight, or any kind of visual ailment.
One might usually ask, “Why XHTML?” “Is it really necessary?”, and we can list various reasons of its prominent standing in the web designing world. Few of them are search engine friendliness, speed optimization, coding standards and better visibility. So it becomes a practice that cannot be ignored in today’s pixel-perfect web designing world. But, seldom do we consider it “a rule”.
When we are applying proper XHTML to our designs, we are, knowingly or unknowingly, fulfilling a citizen’s duty to help the visually disabled. This adds to one more reason of doing PSD to XHTML conversion. According to the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, it is “unlawful to discriminate with people who are physically disabled”. Though it is not a movement specific for websites, but has websites on their agenda too. This means, when a visually disabled person is accessing your website, he/she should be able to view it perfectly.
XHTML lends the website a perfect visual look. It separates the design from content and brings uniformity to the document structure. The use of Cascading Style Sheets helps the developer to make a page look equally well in all web browsers.
This rule becomes conspicuous for all service providers. For example, if you have a travel website and are listing air tickets/reservation details on your website, you must have a visually strong website (with proper XHTML and CSS it is achievable) so that it is easily perceived by visually challenged people.
So how can you comply with the act? It is easy and simple. You have to comply with the W3C guidelines. The W3C guidelines state that a website should be visually clear in all browsers, whether it is a personal computer, desktop browser, voice browser, etc. XHTML compliance takes care that the web pages are visually correct, and makes proper use of W3C standards. So in this context, XHTML is not only a fashion, or a necessity, but a rule and a humanitarian responsibility towards the disabled.