Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Welcome back and another accessibility roundup

Last you read here, Access Ability was going into stealth mode while I took a few days to examine a university web site for accessibility. Unfortunately, that task ran longer than I had anticipated and hence, it has been more than two weeks since I’ve posted anything here.

Well, to quote an old cliché…”I’m back!”

I feel that it would also be most appropriate to toss out some related links to the very subject that was the cause for my absence, web accessibility. Maybe it was coincidence or just plain karma, but there was an abundance of accessibility related news in the last two weeks. Go figure.

In an interesting undertaking, a digital instructional design professional at Kansas State University is taking a first-hand look at using assistive technology to access technology dependent classes. In the
Instructional Design Open Studio blog,
on the May 17 post titled Accessibility in eLearning, this person writes that (s)he is taking two versions of the same class, one will be online and the other on-campus, but both are mediated via technology, which the user is going to access with assistive technology and blog the experience.

I hope the site’s author will try to use JAWS to access the information and see the navigation headaches that the blog's employed Flash feature creates. With JAWS, they might also notice the indication of headings on each and every line of the posts in that Flash presentation. It is just a guess, but I don’t think that the user intended each line to be noted as a heading.

Nonetheless, the effort to take the classes with assistive technology by somebody who is not usually an AT user is a good and worthwhile effort and I commend the undertaking. I’ll be interested to see what the findings are.

In another recent finding, I noticed that on
Duff Johnson’s PDF Perspective,
A blog targeting the production of pdf documents, there was the May 14 post about the recent AGI Acrobat PDF Conference. In it, the writer discusses how he worked to make accessible pdf production interesting. He also offers a download of his presentation. Of course, it is in pdf format!

I have read a previous post by Duff Johnson on that blog concerning accessibility and have it bookmarked as a site for research. It is good to see professionals in the production world continue to take note of the importance of accessibility.

If you are interacting with a web developer about accessibility and the discussion of web applications versus web pages has ever come up, you may be interested in what
Christian Heilmann wrote in his May 20 post, titled How to Make Your Web Applications Accessible – The Human Way.

In that piece, Heilmann shoots down what is apparently a common developer’s defense that what they have created is a web application, not a web page. Heilmann asserts that “web applications should be more accessible than web sites.”

I like the logic in that statement. Now, if we can just get the developers to buy into it. Keep pushing, Christian!

Finally, in keeping with my personal philosophy of not griping without offering solution, I present the following information for authoring accessible web content. There is a review of
Immediacy CMS
on the latest pages of

In this review, Peter Abrahams says that Immediacy is an easy to use content creation tool which creates both accessible content and compliant code.

He adds that, “Immediacy provide a variety of plug-ins to provide specific website functionality; one of these is an accessibility plug-in. This plug-in enables a user to change the overall text size and the background-foreground colour combinations these changes can be important to people with visual impairments or dyslexia.”

He presents a specific list of qualities that the software gives that makes content creation sound easy to do.

Additionally, the site also has other helpful and informative links concerning accessibility. In particular, there is a link on the latest update on the review of web accessibility 2.0.

Now that I’m back, I’ll soon be posting more regularly. Thanks to all of you that have maintained a vigil on this site.

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