November 28, 2002
Watchfire adds new accessibility module to suite
Web site quality testing software provider Watchfire are adding a new accessibility module to its WebQA testing suite as from Monday. The new module, based on technology Watchfire acquired last July from the Center for Applied Special Technology, can check for 90 different accessibility issues, including compliance with the U.S. Government’s Section 508 and the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Read Watchfire’s press release here.
Mozilla 1.2 released
New browser news: Mozilla version 1.2 was released on 26 November. Among the new features is Type Ahead Find - a predictive text option which works in a similar way to text messaging on mobile phones. Keyboard access has also been improved with more shortcut/access keys. One other interesting feature is the ability to prefetch documents when the browser is idle - based on the user’s preferences.
November 27, 2002
W3C gets makeover
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has updated its web page validator to check for conformance to its standards. Among the changes are a new layout and additional support for “XHTML+MathML, XHTML+MathML+SVG, XHTML 1.0 Second Edition and XHTML 1.1; bug fixes and improvements to accessibility for people with disabilities”.
The Curb-cut effect - how designing for the disabled can benefit a far greater audience. You will have heard this countless times before, and this article by Steve Jacobs gives loads of examples throughout history of this very effect.
You are probably aware that the telephone resulted from Alexander Graham Bell’s work in support of children with disabilities (deaf). The same is true for: typewriter … condensor microphone … tape recorder … e-mail
CULTURAL DIFFERENCES WITHIN THE USABILITY OF SPEECH INTERFACES
University of Luton
Bursary appx GBP 12,000 pa. Three year studentship.
Informal expressions of interest are invited for a possible funded PhD studentship investigating cultural differences and localisation issues within speech driven interfaces.
The post would be based within the newly established Centre for Software Internationalisation within the Computing and IS Department at the University of Luton.
The role would be to work with a leading European Software Localisation Company in investigating usability issues within, and developing guidelines for, the localisation of speech driven interfaces. In this context we are addressing issues that go beyond concerns of language translation.
If you might possibly be interested in such a role please email email@example.com giveing a brief background of your work to date, and stating briefly why you are interested in researching within this area.
Dr Andy Smith,
Reader in HCI, University of Luton
Exec. Cttee. Member British HCI Group
November 26, 2002
University of Central Lancashire, Preston, Lancashire, UK
There are a number of people who are concerned about the content on web pages being accessible only to those who have the ‘right’ browser or ‘right’ computer, and realise that most content on the web is not accessible to people who have alternative devices, especially people who are dependent upon alternative devices because they have a disability. We want to ensure that we put content on the web in ways that will make it accessible to everyone, everywhere. We will highlight different methods of access, how the law will be affecting developers in the future, and what we can do NOW to ensure we are working towards full accessibility of web content.
For further details and a booking form please contact Emma Woodward on (01772) 892654 or firstname.lastname@example.org
November 25, 2002
One question that gets asked again and again is: “How can I tell whether someone is using a screen reader or some other assistive device when browsing my site?” The short answer is that you cannot. You can only identify what the browser and operating system is from the USER_AGENT HTTP header. However, there is a rather cunning trick that you can use if you have Flash MX to hand.
Create a movie that does nothing, and use the Accessibility.isActive() method to identify if an assistive device is being used. Depending on the result you can use this information however you see fit - perhaps directing the user to a more accessible version of your site. Of course, you cannot tell what particular piece of assistive technology is being used, but this is still a useful tool to have at your disposal.
There is an excellent feature about localisation of gateway pages at webword. The piece details how many global sites have over-complicated gateways in which the user has to find the region that they are in, often through quite convoluted means. The author, John Yunker, explains how the use of flags (as in a country’s flag, not in the programming sense of flags!) can be misleading (”for example, would you use to represent a Spanish-language Web”), and demonstrates how setting preferred language in your browser can be used to automatically serve up the appropriate language.
While this is not strictly an accessibility piece - it’s more of a wider article on usability - it’s certainly something that touches on accessibility. If people cannot get past the gateway page, then it doesn’t matter how good the rest of your content is.
November 21, 2002
There’s a new section added today - the first entry in the tutorials section entitled ‘The Perfect Pop-up‘ which addresses many of the faults that pop-ups usually have. In this guide you will learn how to make your pop-up accessible, search-engine friendly and non-invasive.
November 20, 2002
If you are writing help information for your company’s software, the chances are you’re authoring in HTML then compiling into a help file. Is the HTML you are writing accessible? If the help system itself accessible? For anyone who finds themselves in this situation, it might be worth a look at RoboHelp X3, the help-authoring product from eHelp. The new product claims to generate Section 508 compliant help content.
From Builder.com’s review of RoboHelp X3:
“… WebHelp enables you to build platform-independent help systems, Section 508-compliant help, and intranet content. Section 508 compatibility is included with all the help output options, but I was especially happy to see it as part of WebHelp”