Accessibility in the News: June 2004Thursday, July 01, 2004
Stories about improving website accessibility are on the rise as the issue gains more prominence and visibility. This is helped by an update to the Nomensa report detailing small accessibility improvements in FTSE 100 websites. Companies are starting to unveil products to tap into the disabled market - spearheded by HP's Pocket PC for the Blind.
Hardware and Software
- Silicon: Web accessibility drive for UK government websites
Macromedia is hoping to cash in on the need for improved Web accessibility across the public sector with the launch of a business unit directly targeting government.
- ISEDB: Accessibility does make a difference
"The contrast on LCD screens runs from 150:1 to 450:1 while CRT screens range from 350:1 to 700:1. The color range still is not comparable on LCD screens."
- Planet PDF: Deque Systems releases upgraded accessibility remediation software
A companion solution, Deque Undoc for PDF empowers the transformation of non-accessible PDF content into accessible HTML, which can then be transformed into accessible PDF with supported, third-party PDF generation tools.
- eMediaWire: Deque Systems Inc. announces release of new content standards management solution
The new solution makes it easier for users to convert PDFs into HTML for editing and web site publishing. Using Undoc for PDF, web content can be presented without the need for an external plug in. The HTML content generated by Undoc for PDF can be made accessible with Deque Ramp Ascend to meet Section 504 and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requirements in the United States and W3C Web Accessibility Initiative standards internationally. Once made accessible, the HTML can be used to generate an accessible PDF using supported third-party PDF generation solutions.
- PDF Zone: Deque upgrades PDF accessibility software
If you've got a Web site and now you need it to be compliant with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act to make it accessible for blind and low-vision site visitors, Deque Systems now offers a new version of its Ramp Ascend package for Mac, Windows, Unix and Linux to do just that. This software will "remediate" the site according to Section 508 as well as the World Wide Web Consortium's accessibility guidelines.
- TMCnet: HP and VisuAide launch Maestro -- first handheld PC for the blind
Maestro features text-to-speech technology and a tactile keyboard membrane over its touch screen so the visually impaired can use essential information-access and communication applications without using a stylus.
- Silicon: FTSE 100 firms improve website accessibility
The survey of the corporate websites of FTSE 100 companies found 37 per cent now meet minimum international web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG), compared to just 11 per cent in the same survey last year.
- Guardian: Company websites fail disabled people
Among the most common problems found in the study was the absence on many websites of alternative text facilities to help users with sensory disabilities. Only 41 firms' sites had this kind of option. Meanwhile 63 out of the 100 firms failed to offer a capability that allows users to change text sizes.
- E-Health-Insider: Mixed results for health websites in accessibility survey
The survey, carried out by SiteMorse on behalf of Business2WWW, found that only 0.4% of the pages on www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk fully complied with the W3 Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) basic checklist, the benchmark against which all websites are measured for ease of access.
- Web Pro News: Web Accessibility Myths
Creating a separate text-only equivalent can lead to a number of problems:
- A text-only version is not necessarily accessible
- Two versions of the same website represents a huge time and money investment for you
- Your primary site may still be inaccessible to many users
- An 'extra' website for blind and disabled users can be one more way to make them feel marginalised from mainstream society
- out-law: Accessibility of top UK company web sites improving
According to Nomensa, only 41% of sites provided alternative text for all images, while only 56% of the alternative text used was actually correct. Around 62% of sites did not allow the font size to be rescaled, which is important for visually impaired users.
- Daily Star: Living conditions of disabled deteriorate despite legislation
Citing figures that a consultant to the Social Affairs Ministry gave at a United Nations Development Program workshop in April, the organization's president, Sylvana Lakkis, explained that in 1997, the illiteracy rate for disabled people stood at 50.4 percent, while the most recent figure is an incredible 69.3 percent. This upward trend stands in sharp contrast to the general literacy rate of almost 90 percent of the population, which makes Lebanon one of the best performing countries in the region.
- Digital Media Europe: Benefits of an accessible website - part 2: The business case
- An accessible website will make you more money
- An accessible website will save you money
- Whir: HP To Use Coast Software
HP will internally deploy COAST Web Quality Central to manage compliance with organizational standards on its more than 200 global Web sites, including the monitoring of both Internet and intranet sites with a combined total page count over 10 million. They will be monitoring for compliance with Web privacy, accessibility and Web governance standards.
- idg: Online shop launches with IBM Web accessibility system
The system, called Easy Web Browsing, was developed by IBM's Tokyo Research Laboratory and places a row of large buttons along the top of the user's browser screen. The buttons offer one-click access to control things like font size and also help integration with IBM's Home Page Reader software so that a particular part of the site can be read out by the computer on demand.
- Cnews: Search engine offers accessibility for disabled users
It [yousearched.com] has already earned the highest standard of accessibility certification offered by the Royal National Institute of the Blind in Britain, the World Wide Web Consortium and other certifying groups.
- Mercury News: Surfing in the dark
For blind users, Web pages are full of hurdles. PDF files often can't be read by the screen readers, which usually recognizes them as graphics. Flash movies, as well as Java script, are generally incomprehensible too. If the screen reader doesn't see a description of what's on the page in the source code, it may not even detect anything is there. Web site developers often don't even bother to write captions or descriptions for graphic elements.
- GCN: A checkup for Section 508
The lack of consistent enforcement is an equally critical factor. Currently, there is no watchdog organization that holds vendors and agencies accountable to the Section 508 standards.
- W3Reports: Manchester United: Top of the web accessibility league?
What Manchester United has done goes against the whole concept of web accessibility. The positive press coverage they're getting for this website is actually damaging to the promotion of web accessibility as a whole - if companies think they have to go to these extremes to make their website accessible then it will surely discourage them to do this. To top it all off, manutd.com/access, although I'm sure is fully accessible to disabled and blind people, doesn't even pass the W3C Priority 2 checkpoints!
- on-rec: New e-recruitment guide helps business expand talent pool
The most common barriers for disabled people applying for jobs online [1.3 million] are easily overcome and making an existing website accessible, costs on average under 5% of total developmental expenditure. This investment can significantly increase market share by improving accessibility and usability for all users.
- TMCNet: IBM signs global agreement: Parasoft WebKing to ensure web quality, reliability and accessibility globally
Using WebKing since early 2004, IBM continues to use WebKing to perform Section 508 accessibility verification for ibm.com, IBM internal portals, and application development projects built by IBM Global Services (IGS), the company's consulting division. WebKing helps IBM keep their Web sites consistent worldwide.
- GCN: GSA tool to help agencies meet 508 requirements
The wizard asks users a series of general to specific questions to figure out whether Section 508 applies to the IT purchase. Weaver said there are 66 provisions in six categories under Section 508, and agency employees don't always understand how 508 applies in all instances.
- Media Daily News: DNC updates web site, continues focus on database expansion
In designing the new Web site, Plus Three conducted sessions with focus groups and took into consideration the importance of accessibility to all users, including the disabled. In compliance with guidelines set up under the Americans with Disabilities Act, coded descriptions known as alt tags were attributed to all Web site images to ease site navigation by sight-impaired people. The use of a Flash intro to the site was also a no-no. "It excludes so many people," Proano explains.
- What PC: Supermarket sites criticised over accessibility
The organisation found that Sainsbury's, Asda, Somerfield and Morrisons failed to provide even basic levels of accessibility for disabled users.
- e-consultancy: Postwatch introduces new, accessible website
LONDON, England: Postwatch, the UK watchdog for postal services, today announced its new fully accessible website. With the increased publicity of its work, the Postwatch website has seen a large increase in traffic over the past few months. The new website was formed after consultation with, and development by, Webcredible, a company that specialises in web accessibility and usability.
- Digital Media Europe: Webcredible boosts UK postal watchdog website accessibility
Unlike the vast majority of websites, the main content of each page on the new Postwatch website is at the top of the HTML document and the navigation is placed underneath. Blind internet users using screen readers (that read the content of each web page aloud) can therefore access the content immediately. Before the content begins, they are also given the opportunity to skip to the navigation, enabling them to easily move around the page.
Real world accessibility
- Daily Freeman: Ulster man makes world more accessible
There is the brand new New York City Department of Environmental Protection police station near his home where there are handicapped parking spaces, but no access aisles to allow a person in a wheelchair to exit their vehicle.
- Sports Features: Athens 2004 publishes "ERMIS" Business Accessibility Guide
The Guide includes no fewer than 1315 "accessible" businesses in Athens and the other four Olympic Cities. These are businesses that have applied for listing on the programme and have been declared by ad hoc inspection committees to be "friendly" to persons with a mobility challenge.
- Juneau Empire: Juneau Airport adds features to ease air travel for the disabled
During the past decade, airport officials have worked with the city's Americans with Disabilities Act Committee to better meet the needs of people with disabilities. Because of the various improvements, the airport received a certificate of accessibility from the Juneau Chamber of Commerce for accommodating people with disabilities.
- Globe and Mail: Vancouver airport wins new Hansen prize
Now 46, Mr. Hansen became a paraplegic after a car crash in 1973 when he was 15. He became an iconic figure when he embarked on his Man in Motion tour in 1985. Between then and 1987, he wheeled 40,000 kilometres - the equivalent of the circumference of Earth - to raise awareness and money for spinal cord research.
- Trinidad News: Disabled grounded at Piarco
George Daniel, DPI president, questioned the policy of one "lift-on" passenger per aircraft which, according to one airline official, is the current regulation.
- Ghana Web: Don't lock up disabled children in rooms - Parents told
He said 98 per cent of children with disabilities received no formal education and this stemmed from the fear of parents that such children would not be able to cope up if they were sent to school.
- Palm Beach Post: Kenneth Seaquist, advocate for wheelchair accessibility, dies
"Bowling from a wheelchair isn't something that can be taught," he once said. "Each bowler is self-taught, he has to work out his individual problems."
- Seattle Times: Acclaimed library disappoints disabled, but corrections promised
Darlene Hilling of Shoreline said these large doors present a different problem. Hilling is blind and uses a guide dog. When Hilling is in danger of running into something or when an object is coming toward her, her dog has been trained to get between her and the object. So when the large doors of the library open, Hilling says, her dog gets between her and the door and won't let her move forward.
- Daytona Beach News Journal: Business niche serving disabled largely unfilled
The number of area businesses that cater to the disabled are small despite about 9 percent of the county's population having some form of handicap, said David Dixon. Dixon, who succeeded Moses at HAVOC, cited figures gleaned from the 2000 census.
- Detroit News: Families with disabled child must take care in estate planning
Nearly one in five adults and young children in the United States -- 49.7 million people -- have a disability or long-lasting condition, reported the 2000 Census. Years ago, aging parents relied on relatives to care for an adult child with a disability, experts said. But with smaller families and relatives often living far away, it's become important for parents to develop a long-term financial strategy for their child.
- Star Tribune: More homeowners embrace universal design
But a funny thing happened on the way to free-and-open access: lots of people found the improvements easier to navigate and more comfortable. These revelations ushered universal design into a transition from commercial buildings to the residential arena.
- Chicago Sun Times: Virginians set standard for disabled travel guides
Travelers with disabilities spent $13.6 billion on 31.7 million trips in the United States in 2002, according to a study conducted by Harris Interactive for national travel industry groups. The study also found that people with disabilities could spend at least $27 billion per year if airlines, lodging and other tourism-related businesses further target disabled travelers' needs.
- Detroit Free Press: Ellen Creager: A better view of the world for disabled
Internationally, London is the best city for mobility-impaired travelers. Stockholm is good, Paris is improving, and even Egypt "is starting to do better," says Russell, who with her husband, Bill, runs Access-Able Travel Source in Wheat Ridge, Colo., which tracks barrier-free trends.
- BreakingNews.ie: Disabled group hails new Luas system
The trams, which begin running on the Sandyford to St Stephen's Green line tomorrow, will be able to fit up to 30 more wheelchairs than a standard bus and will also contain aids for the blind and the hard of hearing.
- London Free Press: Disabled man becomes MP
He campaigned from the motorized wheelchair he controls with his head and proved too strong a match for star Liberal candidate Glen Murray. Now, just hours after defeating the former Winnipeg mayor in a race that see-sawed throughout the night, newly elected Conservative MP Steven Fletcher is turning his attention to the practical questions about working in the House of Commons. He also hopes to break new ground for the country's disabled as the first quadriplegic MP.
- HR Gateway: Somerfield takes disabled hiring nationwide
While a recent report accused its shopping website of being inaccessible, Somerfield is helping lead the way in terms of disabled hiring with a new nationwide agreement.
- Scotsman: £12m bill to comply with disability act
She warn that, unless the current programme is accelerated, it will take the council 60 years at today's prices to address the overall requirements of fully complying with the new legislation.
- Fort Wayne: People with disabilities get a hard-fought victory for access
Six Tennessee residents brought the case, among them a man who refused to crawl up the stairs to a second-floor courtroom to answer a traffic summons. He was sued by the state and charged with failing to appear for his hearing. A second plaintiff had to rely on fellow workers to carry her up staircases to her job as a court reporter.
- Boston: Organizers release accessibility guide for disabled delegates
Organizers of the Democratic National Convention have released an accessibility guide that will help delegates with disabilities get around the FleetCenter and the greater Boston area in July. ... During the convention, the DNC will also staff a guest services desk that will provide listening devices and materials in Braille. Sign language interpreters will be provided for all of the convention's proceedings.
- Advertiser Tribune: Second look at ADA needed
Indeed, the now nearly mythical stair-crawling by the plaintiff, George Lane, turns out to have been a publicity stunt designed to kick off litigation. Far from unable to get around, the amputee uses an artificial leg quite well. He encountered difficulty at a Tennessee courthouse only because he refused assistance in traversing a stairway; he also refused an offer to move his case to a more easily accessible courtroom. What more should a court administrator be expected to do?
- Lompoc Record: One man sues hundreds of businesses over access
Court records show that Molski has completed almost 150 suits so far. Based on Frankovich's numbers, that means Molski has grossed $3 million to $5.3 million before paying his attorney.
- in-forum: Human rights case upheld: Judge says 2 denied discrimination hearings
North Dakota Labor Commissioner Mark Bachmeier wrongfully denied at least two people the right to have discrimination complaints formally heard, a judge determined Tuesday.
- Gov Tech: California issues electronic voting machine standards
"I want to stress that the paper trail systems we are requiring will be fully accessible to disabled voters," Shelley said. "These requirements will ensure that California polling places are in full compliance with the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which requires at least one voting machine per polling place be accessible to individuals with disabilities by the 2006 election."
- Personnel Today: Disability strategy aims to close employment gap
Narrowing the gap in employment rates between disabled and non-disabled people: Increased employment rates to 60 per cent of disabled people of working age working compared to 49 per cent today.
- Scoop: New Zealand Sign Language Bill first reading
This Bill provides official recognition of New Zealand Sign Language, the unique language of Deaf New Zealanders. New Zealand Sign Language is the natural visual and gestural language of over 7,000 Deaf New Zealanders.