Apple published new details of VoiceOver, the built-in screenreader component of OS X 10.4 which will be released at the end of this month. The video demonstration is particularly impressive. (Via: Einfach für Alle).
Latest Accessibility News on Accessify
Bruce Lawson tells a sobering story:
So I get a gig writing an accessibility report for a big organisation that completely relaunched its website last year. They wanted an external opinion, but were completely confident that everything’s fine, as they didn’t use any old supplier; they used the same big company that implemented all their payroll systems, their CRM suite etc. Big guys. Big company. Got to be pros, right?
Can you guess what happened? Of course, the site didn’t even meet WCAG priority one (”A Web content developer must satisfy this checkpoint. Otherwise, one or more groups will find it impossible to access information in the document”).
The DRC has commissioned the BSI to produce new guidance [which] will take the aim of informing website commissioners and developers of their obligations and of good practice in [the area of web accessibility]. This guidance takes the form of a Publicly Available Specification (PAS). [...] A PAS is not a full British Standard but is developed using the same rigorous processes. [...] PAS 78: Guide to good practice in designing accessible websites will remind web developers of the vital importance of web standards. [...] It is due to be published this Autumn.
See the full press release from the DRC: Making websites accessible - new guidance planned. Hat tip to Julie Howell from the RNIB.
Easy Web Browsing is another interesting project to come out of IBM’s Tokyo research labs:
Easy Web Browsing is software that helps novice users, seniors and people with limited vision or eye fatigue access Web site information more easily. It is installed as Web content on your client’s Web site and can be initiated by their customers on demand. The software, which is controlled by an easy-to-use control panel, allows users to:
- Enlarge text.
- Enlarge characters.
- Read text aloud with speed control.
- Change background color.
- Assign sound effects to events such as downloading completion.
It is not necessary to redesign the existing Web content on the customer’s Web site. The necessary software components are automatically downloaded and setup. It is easy to maintain the end-user’s local installation by updating the customer’s Web site.
Check out the Easy Web Browsing demonstration (requires Internet Explorer 5.5 SP2) - it’s fully functional, but limited to browsing pages under IBM’s domain. This opens up an interesting question: at this stage, it seems that the software needs to be tied to a specific site; as soon as a user moves outside of its domain, EWB is simply turned off. What happens when a user goes from one “enabled” site to another? Is the transition from one domain to the next seamless? And will it be possible to license the software so it works on any site (as technically no changes are required on the server side)?
Interesting presentation by Takayuki Watanabe and Tatuo Seki at last month’s CSUN Conference, outlining the difference between JIS and WCAG: Japanese Industrial Standard of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and International Standard Harmonization (via Bob Regan).