You’ve likely found this page because your browser is not compliant with current web standards. This site uses XHTML for its structure and CSS for its presentation (visual design), specifications defined as the standards for web pages by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Your browser may predate the W3C’s recommendation for the use of CSS in 1996, or it may simply implement this standard too poorly for practical use. The manufacturers of most browsers that were popular in the late 1990s compromised their support of standards despite having contributed to their development, often instead favouring proprietary technologies in a competition to direct the form and display of information online. These “browser wars” ended with the general acknowledgement that they harmed both users and the maturing web medium.

Why is browser standards-compliance important?

Simply put, standards-compliance allows far greater accessibility to information. The use of standards prevents the obsolescence and compatibility problems that have arisen on the web from proprietary browser technologies and the designs that depended on them. The W3C specifications allow information to be far more accessible, both to Internet devices and to the people who use them:

You can learn more about web standards from the Web Standards Project (WaSP), a grass-roots group that offers less technical details than those from the W3C. Incidentally, the preceding links open in new windows, but if you find this behaviour annoying, you could instead use the following links to the Web Standards Project or the W3C.

Isn’t this site actually less accessible to my current, non-compliant browser?

No, accessibility includes your browser. All the content on this site is available to you right now. You may, however, be missing out on aspects of the presentation – layout and visual design which are not necessary to the meaning of the content. Your browser may meet all of your needs, and you needn’t upgrade it to access information on this site. The site would simply look considerably better within a more modern browser, so if you choose to upgrade, you may find it more attractive. Web standards allow greater access to information to everyone, while letting the specific appearance of the information depend on the device used. Designing the site so that it appears a specific way within your non-compliant browser would have limited access to the information within others.

Please contact us if you have concerns about the accessibility of this information.

How do I get a standards-compliant browser?

Many are available, and most of them are free. These very likely include more recent versions of the browser you’re currently using, since compliance with web standards is now a fundamental goal of browser manufacturers. You may even have a standards-compliant browser already on the computer you’re using, though you could choose another.

While non-compliant browsers aren’t recommended (though content should be available to them too), your particular choice of browser is a personal one. Different browsers have some distinct features, and they often vary in details of how they display the content. This isn’t generally a problem (though many browsers do have bugs), but is a matter a style. The choice is yours, but the most popular makers of browsers include:

Each of the popular browsers from these manufacturers is downloadable free of charge and most are available for several computer platforms.

If you have an older computer, you may find that Opera’s browser has the least demanding system requirements.

If you cannot download the software, you can usually get a CD from the manufacturer for a nominal cost. CDs including recent versions of browsers are also often included with computer magazines.

If you do not have access to install software on your computer, encourage your system administrator to provide you with the current browser of your choice.

If you are unable to get a standards-compliant browser, or if you cannot install or use it on your computer, you should nonetheless be able to access all the content on this site with the browser you now use.

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