Accessibility in the News: April 2005Wednesday, May 04, 2005
The major news item of the month is the DRC's announcement of a process that will lead to a British Institute Standard (PAS) in web accessibility. This is a follow-on from the dismal results of a web accessibility survey of 1000 websites done last year. This is encouraging news. The guideline seeks to inform website owners as to what is expected of them in terms of the Disability Discrimination Act.
Apple's new version of OSX, called Tiger, was released on the 29th April, so it looks like we'll have to wait until next month to see how Voice Over - the built in screen reader - fairs in the press.
- eConsultancy: Underwired* redesigns web site for Action For Kids
Adding to its already strong charity credentials, digital agency Underwired* has redesigned the children's charity Action For Kids' web site. The new site went live on 20th February at www.actionforkids.org.
- Computer Weekly: O2 partners for web accessibility
O2 has entered a partnership with Segala to validate all its web-based products against WAI AA guidelines, promoting a high degree of usability for people with disabilities.
- Entrepreneur: All Access
The blind population is greatly influenced by word-of-mouth advertising. When blind consumers hear about an accessible site, "they will pass it on to a few hundred people on one listserv, and somebody else will pass it on to another," Leventhal says. "That could turn into thousands of people using a website." And given their significant transportation problems, blind consumers are loyal to accessible sites.
- Fort Wayne Journal Gazette: Internet tasks confound blind users, study finds
Only about a quarter of the 1.1 million blind Americans use computers, and of these many experiment with the Internet only in limited ways, Zaborowski said. Partly this is because blind people are often older and not techno-savvy, but it's also because the graphic-centric Internet is not designed for them.
- out law: Labour wins on web accessibility
The Labour Party has beaten off its rivals to rank first in a survey of political party web site accessibility. Labour achieved a four-star rating - the first time that any site featured in AbilityNet's on-going survey series has gained such a high score.
- eGov Monitor: Museums, libraries and archives lead the way in website accessibility
Excellence Award 2005 - www.webwords.org, Library and Information Services, Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead. This website provides audio extracts of some 500 audio books, allowing visually impaired people - and every user - to choose their preferred narrator. The judges said: "It allows users glimpses into a book, much like browsing printed books does. Web words has the enormous advantage that it can be used by other libraries."
- mysan: Merck earns web accessibility certification from the National Federation of the Blind
Merck is the first U.S. pharmaceutical company to earn NFB-NVA certification, which signifies that a Web site is as accessible to people who are blind as to the sighted.
- New Zealand Herald: Sites slow to help disabled
But under the New Zealand Human Rights Act, he [Bruce Aylward] says, a company's website can be considered a public service, especially if it offers online sales.
- eConsultancy: O2 focuses on accessibility for disabled, mobile and silver surfers
Segala will now be responsible for validating O2's entire web based supplier products against the WAI AA guidelines by providing a branded logo which acts as a seal of approval for O2. Segala is also providing ongoing advice for the UK's market leader in mobile web products on mobile device accessibility.
- eGov monitor: Basic Skills Agency wins accessibility approval
The Basic Skills Agency's website: www.basic-skills.co.uk has been awarded the "See it Right" logo from the Royal National Institute for the Blind. This signifies a commitment to best practice website accessibility.
- eConsultancy: Fortune Cookie appointed to PAS Steering Group
The document will describe the accessibility standards that websites should conform to. It will also tackle many of the myths and confusions surrounding web accessibility. For example: the role of automated tools, how to validate web code, quality assurance and benchmarking, and how and when to involve disabled people in the design lifecycle.
- Silicon: Election '05 - Labour tops campaign website study
But although the study - which assessed both usability and accessibility of the campaign websites - credits the Labour Party's slick website, the Usability Company found it was a disappointing case of style over substance across all the party websites.
Hardware and software
- BBC: Firms' link up makes money talk
As well as having 60% of the US market, Diebold is the second largest cash point (ATM) provider in Europe.
The company is using Scansoft's text to speech technology to improve the accessibility of its cash dispensers.
- Telegraph: Faqs! Facts! Fax!
Windows XP has a built in text to speech utility called Narrator. It is intended to help blind or partially sighted users use Windows by announcing commands and keystrokes but it can also be persuaded to read blocks of text. Open Narrator by pressing Winkey + U (or go to Start > Programs > Accessories > Accessibility Options) then copy and paste the text you want to be read into Windows Notepad and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter and it will start. Narrator settings -- speed, voice etc., -- can be changed from Speech in Control Panel.
- Mozillazine: Mozilla Firefox spatial navigation builds
The spatial navigation feature lets you select links by holding Shift+Alt and one of the four cursor keys. The links are selected based on their visual position on the page rather than their position in the HTML source code. So to select a link that is to the right of the current one, you would only need to press Shift+Alt+Right, even if the actual HTML for that link is much further down (or up) in the page source.
- PDF Zone: ARTS PDF Challenges Acrobat With Nitro PDF Desktop
"The main differentiator between Adobe and the ARTS PDF tool is in the accessibility, which might hinder the sales to the government sector. In the case of accessibility, one of the things Nitro PDF lacks is the ability to create a tagged PDF, which identifies the reading order for documents for blind users utilizing screen-reading software," Young said.
Tagged PDF files are important because tags make the PDF file compliant with Section 508 of the Citizens with Disabilities Act.
- Daily Illini: Alternative browser latest addition to campus technology
The University signed with Opera largely because it is more accessible for disabled people, said Jon Gunderson, director of information technology accessibility services. Hanson said the browser features a downloadable upgrade that allows the user to navigate the browser using his voice. While this feature was not expressly created for disabled people, it is the first browser to feature voice operated navigation.
- MacWorld: Giving OSX a voice
Universal Access' marquee feature is VoiceOver, a scheme that will read any onscreen text, in any application, with OSX's built-in Speech voices. That includes Web pages, e-mail messages, and other documents. In addition to reading text, VoiceOver can be configured to display the currently selected text in a window that contains large text, thus providing both aural and enhanced-visual feedback.
Legal US and Canada
- Daytona Beach News: Voter verification critical for touch-screen machines
It should be noted that California decertified the same model Diebold touch-screen machines that the state is forcing on 30 Florida counties, including Volusia (since Diebold is already the optical-scan vendor in those counties). While many states are heading toward or returning to optical-scan voting, Florida is heading in the opposite direction, setting itself up for future election debacles.
Legal UK / Europe
- Tenders Direct: EU - Information Society for all
Requirements to make information and communication technology (ICT) goods and services accessible to elderly and disabled people should be laid down in public procurement contracts. So say 90% of the 500 respondents (public agencies, ICT goods and service suppliers, universities, business associations and user groups) to the Commission's January 2005 public consultation on the need for "eAccessiblity" measures.
- Silicon: EC wants disabled access clauses in IT contracts
The study also found demand for some kind of product certification or "labelling" scheme with 74 per cent of respondents saying IT goods and services need to be made more fully interoperable and that technical requirements should be harmonised within and beyond the EU.
- IT Week: What benefits does broadband offer to business?
The Disability Rights Commission (DRC) is adopting broadband to allow more of its staff to work from home, and to promote accessibility and flexibility in the organisation.
The DRC's goal is 'a society where all disabled people can participate fully as equal citizens', and the organisation, set up in 2000, is keen to set a good example by using technology to advance a working environment that enables equality of opportunity.
- out law: Web accessibility: new guidance from BSI and DRC
"We're not looking to replace the WCAG guidelines by any means," he [Stephen Beesley] said. "The PAS document will set out good practice and make reference to WCAG and other standards. It will describe the role of standards, software tools and user testing within an overall development cycle."
- Mondaq: The Disability Discrimination Act 2005 - impact on the transport sector
The new Act will allow the Government to make it unlawful to, for example, refuse somebody with a disability to board a vehicle simply because they are disabled, or to charge a disabled person more for the same service as other passengers. Transport providers will have to act positively by making reasonable adjustments in the way the service is provided. For example, rail operators may have to provide 'at seat' catering services if a disabled person would be unable to reach the buffet car.
- creative match: The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) & Web Accessibility
The RNIB (Royal National Institute for the Blind) and the DRC (Disability Rights Commission), two of the most renowned advocates for the DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) and accessible websites, have no specific information about the laws and what websites specifically need to do in order to meet the legal requirements.