Review of Accessible Joomla

Deaf JoomlaThis is a guest post from Judy Gunter of, reviewing Accessible Joomla (or a8eJoomla) from Accessible Joomla is a hack to Joomla’s core files that allows webmasters to conform to web accessibility guidelines and web standards by removing HTML tables in favor of using CSS.

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Installing Accessible Joomla

After I published Ten Things to do after a new Joomla Installation , I was contacted by the programmer of Accessible Joomla . I told him that I did try Accessible Joomla before but ran into installation problem and promptly forgot about it

He told me there’s two ways to install it:

  • The hard way which is to unpack and install Joomla via FTP and setup the MySQL tables and then use FTP to upload Accessible Joomla.
  • Use Fantastico to install Joomla 1. 0. 12 and then use FTP to upload Accessible Joomla.

I chose method 2.

Why Accessible Joomla?

Now why would I want to use Accessible Joomla? The same reason why I’m using Joomla – to make my life easier! Accessible (a8e) Joomla is a fork that automatically converts your website (or at least elminate most of the modifications by hand) so that your website will conform to the accessibility guidelines and standards based on W3C . For example, table layout is removed, and popup and javascript are converted to accessible code. It will also help you meet CSS Validation.

For a long time as I learned about how important website validation is (I’m deaf so of course that would make sense to me!) I had to learn HTML and CSS codes and do a lot of troubleshooting and modifications to get my template to meet XHTML and CSS validation. This kind of work takes HOURS, if not DAYS, and with much frustration.

There’s also another reason how important website validation is, and this was sheer serependity. I was working on a client’s website with a live website using a disposable domain name plus a template from a Joomla template membership club. Everytime I tell my client to view the changes I’ve made, my client couldn’t even see anything on the website. I thought maybe it has to do with firewall, disabled javascript, browser, etc. Nothing worked! So in an act of desperation, I installed Accessible Joomla on the website. Problem solved! Then I didn’t like the template so I switched to another template from a different Joomla template membership club. When the website was completed to my client’s satisfaction, I installed Joomla and the template to their real domain, without using Accessible Joomla, just to test. Surprisingly, the client was able to see the completed website after all. So in conclusion, some templates could be designed with bad or erroneous codes, preventing visitors (and perhaps the search engines) from seeing the website at all.

After Installation

So after I installed Accessible Joomla sucessfully on my live test website (not offline like using JSAS), I decided to experiment with the default templates with rhuk’s solarflare and madeyourweb.

First of all, I didn’t notice until at the very bottom of the website there would be a line in the footer saying:
“(This version you are running is Accessible Joomla!)” so that’s pretty cool.

Secondly, I tested Solarflare with Web Developer tool Extension in FireFox, it passed the XHTML and CSS validation without modification! WOW!!! Even better, it also passes Section 508 as well.

Then I switched to the madeyourweb template. Uh, oh, one CSS error. No problem. I copied the index.php code from the top until in Solarflare and then pasted into the Madeyourweb index.php.

Presto! Passed XHTML and CSS validation!

It would make our lives easier if there’s just ONE PRIMA DONA FINAL ARBITRATOR OF W3C! But sadly no, there’s another XHTML Tool in Firefox called Tidy HTML validator.

And it showed one error in HTML

However, since index.php is in php, I have no way of knowing where to make the correction. Know what? Not gonna bother either.

So I’m going to say that my websites passes XHTML and CSS validation via W3C and leave it at that.


In conclusion I think Accessible Joomla should be another “must have tool” in your Joomla arsenal, especially if your client wants your website to meet XHTML, CSS and Section 508 validation.

Here’s my advice:

When you start with a fresh installation of Joomla, first try to experiment with a template that’s already passes XHTML, CSS, and Section 508 validation. If there’s a few error codes, try fixing by hand.

If there’s too many error codes or it’s just a tedious job, then go ahead and try Accessible Joomla and make the comparison.

The reason why I’m only writing about testing on two Default Joomla Templates because there’s simply too many variables with other templates so you have test it out before and after installing Accesible Joomla.

If you already have an active website, see if you can try to get it validated by hand first. If not, make a complete backup of your website (don’t forget the MySQL database as well) and then use FTP to install Accessible Joomla and see how it simplifies the validation process.

Neither I nor the programmers are responsible for anything that may happen to your existing Joomla website in case of screwup so badly that you want to revert back to the original Joomla format so proceed with caution. But as I said before, do a complete backup first.

Accessible Joomla and 1.5

As for Joomla 1.5, this is what the Accessible Joomla programmer has to say:

“As far as I know, joomla 1.5 is not tableless by default, so accessible joomla might still be necessary. I will take a look into it closer.”

“I do hope that Joomla 1.5 will offer built-in validation. However, I have not yet installed and played around with Joomla 1.5 beta so will wait until there’s a stable release and then play around with validation.”

About Judy Gunter

Judy Gunter is the webmaster of Deaf Resource Center ( and fell in love with (at that time) Mambo when she wanted to simplify maintaining the website. Since then, she has cast her lot with Joomla and has designed a few more Joomla websites. DeafJoomla was created in response to discovering many deaf-related websites using Joomla and she hopes to meet more deaf webmasters with Joomla expertise. Judy owes a big debt of gratitude to the Joomla community for making webmastering fun and enjoyable!

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