Saturday, August 11, 2007

Database publisher strives to exceed Section 508 with its web offerings

It is inspiring to see a corporation take on the role of ensuring not only meeting the accessibility demands of Section 508, but strive to exceed them across the board in their services.

The company I am speaking of is
EBSCO Publishing
Which “according to their web site, has been serving libraries and organizations worldwide for more than 60 years,” providing periodical acquisition. Translated, that means they are a research database supplier.

The above linked press release announces how the company partnered with the
Illinois Center for Instructional Technology Accessibility
at the University of Illinois at Urbana/ Champaign to move EBSCO beyond just meeting the web standards.

Changes that were noted in the upgrade were:
• Elimination of most tables to improve searching with screen readers or keyboard controls
• Descriptive page titles, section header tags and selected link labels
• Redesigned form controls for easier tab navigation
• Streamlined code for simpler page structures
• Access keys which support international keyboard functionality across multiple browsers
• Detailed alternative text image descriptions
• Visually and physically impaired users can perform searches independently most of the time
• Decreased page size mean shorter download times for all users

What I really liked was that they found the re-design of the web content that was originally done to assist disabled users was useful to everybody, regardless of disability. Because the pages are now shorter, they consequently download quicker, thus helping all users who may be using a slower internet connection, such as dial-up.

Ah! Universal design truly is a beautiful thing.

From the
EBSCO web site,
here is what the company is all about:
“EBSCO Publishing is the world's premier database aggregator, offering a suite of more than 200 full-text and secondary research databases. Through a library of tens of thousands of full-text journals, magazines, books, monographs, reports and various other publication types from renowned publishers, EBSCO serves the content needs of all researchers (Academic, Medical, K-12, Public Library, Corporate, Government, etc.). The company's product lines include proprietary databases such as Academic Search™, Business Source®, CINAHL®, DynaMed™, Literary Reference Center™, MasterFILE™, NoveList®, SocINDEX™ and SPORTDiscus™ as well as dozens of leading licensed databases such as ATLA Religion Database™, EconLit, MEDLINE®, MLA International Bibliography, PsycARTICLES® and PsycINFO®.”


Web standards said...

Thanks for posting about this. Some of it makes me concerned that they might have a hard time reaching their goals while still making layouts that are pleasing to people who don't have access concerns.

Ron Graham said...

True enough. It is somewhat of a fine line to walk, providing the access, yet maintain an appealing look for the rest of the world who use computers without access concerns, all the while focusing on their primary mission of providing information via their databases. Still, I want to recognize the company's efforts for striving for inclusion in a world where the needs of a marginalized few so often go unaddressed.