Accessibility in the News: April 2004Sunday, May 02, 2004
The biggest story of the month is the publication of the Disability Rights Council report into the investigation of UK website accessibility. Not surprisingly, UK websites were roundly slated as being inaccessible, largely the fault of of website owners and website designers. Quickly following on from that is a report measuring the accessibility of disability organisation's websites were equally abysmally inaccessible, plus a counter-productive top five listed accessible websites - all suffering serious accessibility problems. In summary, UK websites have a long way to go.
- U.S. Newswire: A-to-Z of blindness and vision loss now online; American Foundation for the Blind expands web site
The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) relaunched its web site today adding new information and resources for the 10 million Americans who are blind or have low vision. All the site's content is either new or updated to reflect the growing demand for current and reliable information for a population that is expected to grow dramatically as the baby boomers age.
- FCW: Accessible doesn't mean usable
Brad Hodges, technology accessibility manager at the National Federation of the Blind, recently experienced these problems while perusing several e-government sites using a screen reader. Although the sites were almost fully accessible, many were loaded with unnecessary links and information. He often questioned the sites' layouts, which may present particular problems for someone not as well-versed in using a screen reader.
- Scotsman: Internet guide opens doors for the disabled
Gregory Burke, a wheelchair user and founder of DisabledGo - which covers towns and cities across the UK - said: "Never knowing whether a building will be accessible or whether staff will have a helpful attitude really makes you think twice before going out. With DisabledGo, people can check access to different pubs, shops and restaurants and find one which is accessible to their needs. It's a great way for businesses and disabled customers to communicate with each other."
- GamesBids: Athens 2004 web site not disabled friendly?
Reports say that Athens 2004 organizers said they had been contacted by four or five British usability companies raising concerns about the site. One usability specialist said Athens is leaving itself wide open to legal action by repeating the same mistakes made by the Australian Olympic Commission, which was successfully sued in 2000 by a blind Web site user who was unable to use the site.
- WebProNews: Web Accessibility And Your Business
As a business owner, it is important to have a website that meets at least the minimum Web Accessibility Standards. If your website is accessible you stand to benefit from:
- Increased Market Share and Audience Reach,
- Improved Efficiency,
- Demonstrate Social Responsibility, and
- Reduce Legal Liability.
- PublicTechnology: Stockport Council delivers a fully accessible web site
The new site, which is in line with the recommendations of the recent Disability Rights Commission (DRC) report, is one of the first sites in the UK to meet the exacting AAA standard of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
- NetImperative: Government sites 'miss accessibility targets'
The Government is ignoring its own 'mandatory' guidelines on how to make websites more accessible, says a new study.
Disability Rights Council report into UK website accessibility
- ePolitix: Website access 'denied to disabled people'
"The web has been around for 10 years, yet within this short space of time it has managed to throw up the same hurdles to access and participation by disabled people as the physical world," Massie added.
- BBC: Websites 'failing' disabled users
The problems most commonly encountered by the disabled website testers were cluttered pages, confusing navigation, failure to describe images and poor colour contrast between background and text.
- out-law: Disabled web access being ignored, reports DRC
Among those who commission web sites, the DRC found that 97% of large organisations (more than 250 employees) were aware of accessibility as an important issue, and 88% were aware of their responsibilities under the Disability Discrimination Act. But among SMEs, awareness of accessibility as an important issue dropped to 69% and only 48% reported awareness of the legal duty.
- Times: Websites that impede disabled users face legal action
The web operators running inaccessible sites are turning their back on the £50 billion a year spent by Britain's 8.7 million disabled people, the DRC said.
DRC chairman, Bert Massie said: "The situation revealed by this investigation is unacceptable but not inevitable. The DRC is determined to ensure that this new powerful technology does not leave disabled people behind."
- Digitial Media Europe: Most websites inaccessible to disabled users - report
Guidelines to make the web user-friendly are being ignored by website designers and developers and don't deal with the problems experienced by disabled people, according to a year-long investigation by the UK's Disability Rights Commission (DRC) issued today.
- Internet Magazine: Accessibility study calls for government intervention and asks for WAI update
The Commission claims to have completed the 'largest and most comprehensive' accessibility test ever, having automatically checked about 39,000 pages and usability tested 100 websites.
- BreakingNews: Business 'needs to address disabled access to Internet'
Blind people were the most disenfranchised of web users, the survey found. They were unable to perform nearly half the tasks set them despite using devices such as screen readers.
- Revolution: NAS redesigns as websites criticised over accessibility
The new site complies with accessibility guidelines of the Web Accessibility Initiative set up by the World Wide Web Consortium, which develops guidelines and technologies to improve web usage. It was developed in accordance with the RNIB web recommendations, so that disabled users and the visually impaired can access and use the site.
- BBC: Websites 'failing' disabled users
This means that many everyday activities carried out on the internet - booking a holiday, managing a bank account, buying theatre tickets or finding a cheaper credit card - are difficult or impossible for many disabled people.
- Silicon: Websites failing disabled surfers
The bitterest irony is that the disabled, along with the elderly, have the most to gain from the internet and its virtual ability to bring products and services into the home.
- vnunet: Sites face legal action on disabled access
UK firms have been warned that they face legal action and the threat of unlimited compensation payments if they fail to make websites accessible for people with disabilities.
- Technology News: Internet 'Impossible' for Disabled Users
Regulators also issued a warning that many businesses "may not be complying with existing equal-access laws" in the United Kingdom and said it is "only a matter of time" before they face legal challenges from disabled consumers.
- IT Analysis: Not accessible enough - The Disability Rights Commission on the Web
Well designed accessible sites are easier to use by the fully able. The investigation found that an able user took 50% longer to complete a task on an inaccessible site. Think of the productivity benefit implied by that statement.
- Computer weekly: Ignoring disabled web access will lead to legal action, warns DRC
Only 19% of the websites met the minimum standard for web access as outlined by the World Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, with only two meeting level-two compliance and none achieving the highest level.
- out-law: Egg decorated for site accessibility in DRC study
In undertaking the research, City University used software tools. Many are familiar with Watchfire's free Bobby service for basic accessibility testing; and the researchers used a version of it that offers advanced scanning and reporting capabilities.
- theWHIR: Sites inacessible to disabled users
Of those tested, 585 had accessibility and usability problems. On average, the study showed eight cases of the guidelines being violated per home page. On average, another 108 sites showed potential to disadvantage disabled people.
- Public Technology: DRC investigation finds public websites 'impossible' for the disabled
Speaking at the launch, Mr Massie said: "Eight in 10 sites are next to impossible for some disabled people to use - that means no last minute holidays, cheaper car insurance or lower rates of interest on credit cards. It also means a technological lock out from chat rooms and web forums, from recruitment opportunities that are increasingly happening through the web, and education and information services that have had an increased profile."
- BBC: A web open to all?
Now that it has the evidence it needs, the commission is threatening both to 'name and shame' organisations with inaccessible sites and to fund legal action by individual disabled people.
- NetImperative: Accessibility now
However, this week's report by the DRC touches a much rawer nerve. Paying lip service to the needs of disabled users is a thing we are all happy to do - nobody wants to discriminate and, even now, everybody needs all the users they can get. But taking the next step, that is taking action, is a far more difficult one to take.
- Silicon: Websites failing disabled surfers
The shocking low level of knowledge on web accessibility, the number of stubborn misconceptions and fallacies reiterated by people who should know better is a grave concern. Pitted against such ignorance as demonstrated in this thread is exactly why the DRC report and future legal action is vital and necessary.
- Revolution: Marketers need to be PC when it comes to websites
Marketers who have been slow to comply with legal requirements to make their websites more user friendly for disabled surfers now risk being named and shamed or much worse, warns legal and brand guru Ardi Kolah.
A report entitled 'Disability 50' has revealed that 58% of disability organisations failed to achieve the compliance level deemed by Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) as 'compulsory'. The research was carried out between February and March amongst 50 leading UK disability organisations by 'ethical' communications firm Ethical Media. It compared the sites with the WCAG as developed by global and industry-led standards body, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
- CNet: Sites for the disabled flunk access tests
While such organizations are meant to follow the same rules as the majority of e-commerce sites, it could be argued they have a greater moral obligation to comply with these standards. Yet 58 percent failed to achieve the W3C's compulsory compliance level, the Ethical Media study found.
While these sites are clearly failing their users, they are also failing in the important role of leading by example, according to Paul Sternberg, managing director of Ethical Media. Sternberg added that those organisations that fail to achieve basic compliance also risk serious damage to their reputations and undermining their own good causes.
- FCW: UK finds Web accessibility lacking
A new report says Web site accessibility is as much of a problem in the United Kingdom as in the United States, with the majority of British government sites failing to satisfy basic standards for making online information and services available to people with disabilities.
- PublicTechnology: Disability organisations failing in their own web site's accessibility
Head of Digital Communications at Ethical Media, Keith Patton says: "This shows what many people have suspected for some time: that organisations in or supporting the disability sector do not yet adequately consider web accessibility and usability as a priority in their communications strategies. As a result, significant proportions of users are likely to find it difficult, even impossible, to access information, restricting the flow of communication between any given organisation and its customer base."
- NetImperative: The DRC 'blew it'
The DRC has singled out Egg for its 'accessible' website. Yet Egg is one of the websites that makes up the 81% not even meeting basic standards of accessibility! Spinal Injuries Scotland has also been praised for its accessibility - yet it too doesn't meet the basic accessibility standards. Just two websites passed the W3C priority 2 guidelines (which are the EU and UK government recommended level of accessibility), yet the identity of these websites has not been revealed.
- Digital Bulletin: Disability rights body slams website accessibility
Alyson Rose, spokeswoman for the DRC, said: 'We feel that the DTI has a strong role to play to promote better access for disabled users. An ad and publicity campaign needs to promote the whole disability issue to businesses as well as web developers and designers.'
- Computer Weekly: Web developers need to understand disabled access issues
"The government should consider some sort of accreditation for web developers," said Massie, who warned that UK companies face legal action if they do not ensure their websites comply with equal access laws.
- DM Europe: A wasted opportunity for the web accessibility cause
Meanwhile, the DRC have followed the Royal National Institute for the Blind's policy of not naming and shaming companies. But why on earth not? If a company in my industry was named and shamed I'd be on the phone straightaway to make sure my company wasn't next. That kind of negative publicity would take months to shake off.
- News Sentinel: People with disabilities test out voting machines
The electronic machines are not only smaller and lighter than models now in use; their legs are high and wide enough to accommodate most wheelchairs, and they can speak in a computerized voice so sight-impaired voters can be sure they've pushed the right button.
- Post Standard: Suit filed over voting accessibility
The U.S. Department of Justice sued New York state Thursday to force state campuses to make it easier for students with disabilities to register to vote.
- Guerrilla News: Black Box Battleground
Diebold has been decertified in four California counties, and that the company will be subject to criminal prosecution by the state.
- Oregon Daily Emerald: To err is machine
In early voting during the November 2002 general election, six electronic voting machines in Wake and Jackson counties, N.C., lost at least 436 ballots. When poll workers entered absentee votes on the Election Systems & Software iVotronic touch-screen machines, the computers falsely detected that their memories were full and didn't record the votes.
- FCW: Holt renews call for paper backups to e-voting
In addition to mandating a paper trail, it would forbid the use of undisclosed software and wireless communications devices in voting systems, require surprise recounts in half of 1 percent of all jurisdictions to spot-check accuracy, and require that all voting systems meet the requirements in time for the general election in November.
Hardware and software
- BBC: Macs get their voices back
The announcement has been welcomed by the Royal National Institute for the Blind. "At the moment we have little information on this development," RNIB's Technology Access Manager, Steve Tyler, told BBC News Online. "If the rumours are true, RNIB welcomes this initiative - accessibility built into mainstream systems is critical if we're to move forward."
- Yahoo: Deque Systems Inc. announces public beta of new accessibility management software
Deque Ramp PE supports interactive single-page testing for accessibility and provides the user with comprehensive analysis of accessibility issues. The analysis includes complete tests for all Section 508 issues as well as all W3C WAI WCAG issues at Priority 1, 2, and 3. The user can interactively determine specific tests to conduct. Deque Ramp PE provides the user with constructive feedback how to correct any identifiable accessibility issues.
- ic Birmingham: Software overcomes web access difficulties
Its technology capabilities means that Create is compatible with assistive technologies such as voice synthesised screen readers for the visually impaired, and offers varying degrees of screen colour combinations and text sizes for greater ease of access.
- Planet PDF: PDFlib GmbH announces PDFlib 6
Tagged PDF is the key for accessible PDF according to section 508 in the USA and similar regulations in other countries. PDFlib is the first PDF library for general use which supports Tagged PDF generation. For the first time ever, PDF generated dynamically on the Web server can satisfy accessibility regulations.
- PDF Zone: Deque tackles PDF accessibility
Deque, a women-owned software company on the forefront of automating the process of making Web content accessible, this week announced the public beta of Undoc for PDF. The software converts both HTML and PDF content to XML, where it can be made Section 508-compliant and then repurposed for either print or the Web, or even re-rendered back to accessible PDF.
Real world accessibility
- Ukiah Daily Journal: Seminar focuses on access for disabled
"You wouldn't open a business without considering your obligation to comply with fire codes, electrical codes, etc. -- ADA is not a building code, it's a federal civil rights law enforced by the civil rights division, not building inspectors, however -- think of ADA in the same way. It's a federal law which requires you to come into compliance," Dubin said.
"Only somewhere in the neighborhood of seven to 11 people in Congress voted against the ADA in 1989, and the purpose was no longer will this country tolerate the deplorable behavior creating inaccessible environments," he said, adding, that then-U.S. Sen. Pete Wilson was a co-sponsor of the ADA.
- BBC: Disabled 'to sue for Tube access'
If they [London Underground] take the ostrich approach, and stick their heads in the sand, they could well end up in court
- KRT Wire: The next trend for homes could be universal design
"There are 63 million Americans 55 and older right now," Marks said. "Between now and 2012, there will be another 3.4 million added per year. "Most people won't end up in a wheelchair, but they very well could end up with arthritis," Marks said. "Universal design in home construction - this is where the growth is."
- Columbian: Universal Design: ease of access and use ... regardless of age, size or ability.
"This is something AARP has been working on awhile," says Andrew Kochera, a senior policy advisor for AARP. "The issue that comes up for us is, of course, that between 2004 and 2020, the population age 65 and over is going to increase about 50 percent."
- Edinburgh Evening News: Kerbs give bus users chance to rise to the occasion
Under a £40,000 project, almost 30 bus stops in the Drumbrae and Clermiston areas are currently being made more accessible with the raised kerbs. Combined with the arrival of 45 new low-floor Lothian Buses double-deckers expected later this month, backers say the initiative will help to address the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act.
- StarNewsOnline: Wheelchair-accessible London
London's reputation as a wheelchair-friendly place rests largely on the accessibility of its taxis. It is downright revolutionary, the idea of rolling a wheelchair directly into a taxicab, any ordinary cab hailed on the street.
- Tallahassee Democrat: It's a guide to accessible Florida fun
The 424-page travel guide is packed with descriptions of accessible hotel and motel accommodations and beach sites; hot-air ballooning, hang-gliding and sailing outfits; and myriad other activities and tourist attractions from the Panhandle to the Keys. Places both on and off the beaten path are listed.
- Journal News: Disabled tenants' rights detailed
In a slide show presentation that featured examples of floor plans and multi-unit developments, Nagubandi went over the seven building guidelines required by law. Most of these addressed wheelchair accessibility by mandating access ramps, door widths of at least 36 inches and providing for wheelchair maneuverability in common areas, kitchens and bathrooms. Nagubandi said each violation could bring a fine of up to $10,000.