Web Development

Adventures in Perl

Work is progressing steadily on EduTech’s web site accessibility project. ITD’s most recent ADA compliance testing run on February 3rd looked much better than previous reports. The biggest contributor to this was due to us changing the way the ND TASL site address was handled. Previously, an alias was set up that redirected to the TASL site. This caused the accessibility tester to classify this site as being part of the larger EduTech site. As the TASL site is several years old and largely made up of Microsoft PowerPoint web presentations, it is very noncompliant. By simply changing its address to, the number of reported problems dropped by over half.

I’m now in the process of cleaning up the leftovers. Some of these are new pages created since the last report that had different links with the same link text, which violates guideline 13.1 of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. These problems were easily found and fixed. Another 18 errors are actually PowerSchool templates that are stored in an XML formatted file. The tester is apparently processing these templates (with a .pst file extension) as HTML files. We are hoping these will be excluded in the next report run.

This leaves two problem areas: redirection pages, and CGI scripts. Previously, we had several different easy to remember links that would automatically redirect the user to another, longer URL when clicked. These were all done in HTML code by using either a META redirect or a JavaScript redirect. Either way, they’re not good for accessibility. I had to do some research, but I was able to create .htaccess files fairly quickly that preform the redirects directly. The CGIs, I’m still working on. I have never really even attempted to read a Perl script before, so trying to do that while modifying them has been a good learning experience. Add to that learning the VI editor, a complex, command driven text editor, and we’re talking about a pretty good time. I’m not complaining though – this is the sort of thing I love. Learning new stuff, problem solving, it’s all in there. It’s days like today that I love my job!