Latest Accessibility News on Accessify

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W3C Validator - New Beta Version

As pointed out by a certain web pundit the W3C have released a new beta version of the validator, and very nice it sounds too to make WCAG 1.0 Guideline 3.2 easier to comply with.

Michael started some discussion here.

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments Off Posted by Accessify on Saturday, August 30, 2003

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New Content on Accessify

Finally, after switching from PC to Mac, I’ve managed to get my copy of Virtual
PC playing ball. As such, uploads are once again possible - deep joy!

Tale
of Two Initiatives
- Strangely, despite apparently seeking the same goals
in the same region using the same approaches, EuroAccessibility.org and e-Accessibility/UKDeAN
seem to be oblivious to each other’s existence. Dennis Kessler investigates
why.

Attractive,
Accessible Web Sites
(AKA disproving the myth of ugly) - When you are selling
the concept of web accessibility be sure to pick the good-looking sites when
demonstrating the possibilities, otherwise you might as well not bother.

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments Off Posted by Ian on Friday, August 29, 2003

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Personal Rant about Standards and Training

Well, I say personal rant, but it’s a little more public than that now. Here is an excerpt from my piece featured over at Mezzoblue’s Second Voice series:

How do you encourage unenthusiastic developers/mark-up authors to adopt forward-thinking web development methods?

How do you engage people who consider their work on the web as just that: ‘only work’, something that pays the bills but doesn’t exactly leave them beside themselves with excitement?

I am but one individual in a team of many (in my place of full-time employment) and I am from a strange breed - I have a passion for the web! What happens when you are part of a team that is not as uniformly enthusiastic to learn?

This is a problem that faces many IT managers and standards advocates working in the corporate sector. Though we’re doing good things in adopting accessibility practices and optimising our code, it’s still very difficult to get a site to conform to all the major standards in the real world. Why is this the case?

Add any comments directly to the page (no registration required). Here are some of the people who have linked to the article so far.

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments Off Posted by Ian on Friday, August 29, 2003

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Discussion On Friday

Sharron Rush over at knowbility has let me know about a discussion on Friday the 28th August (tomorrow) covering "digital divide issues as they affect people with disabilities".

The discussion will be hosted over at http://www.techsoup.org/.

That’s it!

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments Off Posted by Accessify on Thursday, August 28, 2003

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Macromedia Studio MX 2004

Yes that’s right, Macromedia announced a new version of MX this week (should have posted this monday morning but I was away), just when most of you were probably getting round to buying the first MX.

This release marks the second release with a major commitment to Accessibility, showing their ongoing commitment to the cause.

On a side issue the software that was used to demonstrate some of MX 2004 to me was pretty cool, some form of Flash application server which provided a view of Bob Regan’s desktop over the web. If you want more info let me know and I can find out but I don’t have any currently.

Back to the topic in hand, Bob Regan’s view on Accessibility is that there will be a lot more interest in and notice taken of Accessibility next year. This year being the European Year of People with Disabilities, he believes next year will be the year of implementation (or words to that effect).

CSS has been taken more seriously than ever forming a "core part of the design".

Slighly off topic again but wouldn’t it be nice for XHTML 2 to have an attribute to the quote element <q> for defining the origin of a verbal quote, something like:

skip technical rambling

<q speaker="Bob Regan, Accessibility Product Manager, Macromedia">&quot;core part of the design&quot;</q>

The current spec allows a cite attribute for indicating the URL of a source document but no way of defining the name of someone for a spoken quote unless you add the name after the quote and mark it up with <cite>. I’ve done it with the title attribute above but that doesn’t seem semantically correct, speach browser could say ‘Bob Regan, Accessibility Product Manager, Macromedia said core part of the design’.

Back to MX 2004. I don’t know how well this was provided in the first MX but MX 2004 provides a number of Accessibility Alerts to warn you when you may be commiting an Accessibility blunder such as missing out alt text <img alt=... /> and long descriptions <img longdesc=... /> or not adding labels <label> to form elements.

Macromedia Contribute has improved integration in MX 2004. Contribute is a New Accessible Macromedia Relase, a content creation tool that integrates with Dreamweaver nicely.

Another quick side issue, Macromedia appear to have dumped drop down menus for text links on a bar under the top level nav, I seem to remember drop downs at some point. Anyhow it’s an interesting alternative and nicer to use I think.

Flash has an increased number of Accessible Interactive Components (form elements and such). MX had 2 of these, on release MX 2004 has 10 with a lot more not quite ready at launch which will be made available to download free soon. These controls work with the MSAA architecture. That’s Microsoft Active Accessibility, not Mower Specialists Association of Australia. According to Bob it’s a "tough API".

While reading this remember that most Macromedia Accessibility options are not on by default, although I’m promised they’re not hard to find.

Still on the subject of Flash, it now has an extensibility layer which allows for more contol and customisation of the software, including improving Accessibility such as adding Accessibility Validation tools which I’m told is available.

Action Scripting has been imporved, instead of being forced to use the Accessibility panel to help produce Accessible scripts these features are now available through the text interface, that’s the way I understand it, although I have not seen or used it.

The current Flash Player(6) has a problem with holding onto the screen focus and causing Accessibility upset, well the new version of the player takes a new approach and resolves this problem.

That’s it for now, if you have anything to say about this head over to the forum. If any of this information has errors feel free to mail me, my notes aren’t as good as they could have been and it’s been a busy couple of weeks since I took them.

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments Off Posted by Accessify on Tuesday, August 26, 2003

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Latest updates on Accessify

That is all …

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments Off Posted by Ian on Friday, August 22, 2003

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Petitioning the Makers of JAWS

Dreamlettes is drawing together a petition as follows:

"Starting at $ 895, JAWS is too expensive a testing tool for us, freelance web designers, who wish to test our designs, as the intended audience would experience it. We have to rely on making our websites conforming to the existing Section508/WCAG Guidelines and assuming that the audience will have a usable experience on the site designed. Since the free download for JAWS is time limited, it is of no use to the designer after expiration date.

We, the undersigned, request that the developers of JAWS® for Windows please provide us a free/cost effective, stripped down testing alternative. This will lead to more websites being tested to suit your software, resulting in an increased audience and hence increased requirement for JAWS."

If you agree with the sentiment, go on and add your name to the list, or perhaps you think that this is a new form of discrimination? If so, have your say in the forum

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments Off Posted by Ian on Friday, August 22, 2003

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Testing on Pocket PC

As reported on a few sites today, there’s a new tool out there that aims to emulate a Pocket PC’s behaviour, but on further investigation, it appears to me to be doing nothing of the sort. In fact, as far as I can tell, it’s little more that a bunch of sliced images with a floating frame that contains the web site thrown at in a smaller window, for example, this is how accessify looks on the tool:

Accessify as viewd on the emulator

However, when I view the site on my real iPaq, this is what I get:

As viewed on my iPaq As viewed on my iPaq

A no-frills, text-only version of the page that fits on the screen and is totally usable. And this is precisely what it is supposed to be - the CSS is ignored by Pocket PC 2002, and so you get something simple that does work for handhelds. This is no accident.

So, am I missing something here? Is this emulator running something other than Pocket PC 2002 (I hear that 2003 does support some CSS). Or am I right in thinking that this emulator is doing anything but emulation? If it’s not working as it should then it’s harmful (and misleading) to put this out for people to view. If you want to comment publicly, go on over to the forum.

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments Off Posted by Ian on Friday, August 22, 2003

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CAPTCHA-ing the Spammer

From PC Mag a couple of days ago, an interesting article about the use of CAPTCHAs to stop spamming, and how they affect accessibility.

Chances are, you’ve been CAPTCHAd. Since the Internet spam problem reached epidemic proportions several months back, an increasing number of Web-based e-mail services and antispam applications have started using CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) against the online bots spammers so often use to carry out their dirty deeds.

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments Off Posted by Ian on Friday, August 22, 2003

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Glad to be of service …

I received this e-mail today that I tought I would share:

We had some e-mails months ago, and your accessify site was a major resource
in making our site accessible. I’m pleased to say I got there in the end, and
London Canal Museum has now become the first museum to be awarded the RNIB’s
“See-it-Right” logo.

The audit process was as exhausting as it was exhaustive! Many thanks for
your help earlier, thought you would like to know the outcome.

If I’m completely honest, the design of the site doesn’t exactly inspire me, but here the content is king. And now that content has been made accessible to a wider audience. It’s great to know that this site was able to help in some way to achieve that goal :)

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments Off Posted by Ian on Friday, August 22, 2003
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