Latest Accessibility News on Accessify


Accessible PDFs

It’s fun to watch the incredible, expanding PDF standard grow and morph into a multimedia e-paper format that makes paper look so 20th century. Unless, of course, you are blind or have poor vision. In that case, getting work done, reading e-books or filling out forms can be a nightmare.

Full story: Thanks to Pat Pound from Austin Tech Disability Access for pointing this one out.

Discussion of: Accessible PDFs

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments Off Posted by Accessify on Tuesday, March 30, 2004


Nomensa FTSE 100 Accessibility Report

This is supposed to be a news page, but sometimes things slip under the radar that still deserve reporting a little late. This is one such item. Léonie Watson from Nomensa contacted me back in January to let me know about Nomensa’s report on the accessibility and usability of the Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE) top 100 companies, and it’s been languishing in my inbox since then. So, I’ll make the necessary apologies and leet Léonie continue at this point.

UK-based user centred design company Nomensa have released a review of web sites belonging to the top 100 companies on the Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE).

The report utilised a broad spectrum of testing criteria, which aimed to cover aspects of both accessibility and usability.

Categories under evaluation included technical elements:- the presence of alternate text for images, the scalability of the site structure and text, the validity of code and conformance against the Web Content Accessibility guidelines.

Usability was also represented in the form of categories including:- the appropriateness of alternate text, the context independency of link text, the accuracy and uniqueness of page titles and the presence of access keys.

Report author L�onie Watson says:

“We felt that it was important to step outside the boundaries of the WAI guidelines and assess aspects of web design that affect the user in the real world, as well as investigating the more impersonal elements of a site’s design.”

The report demonstrates the disappointing fact that an overwhelming majority of sites tested lack a basic understanding of accessibility or usability.

  • 79% did not implement alternate text on all images.
  • 23% permitted font resizing.
  • 89% failed to achieve Level A compliance.
  • 46% used clear context independent link text.
  • 1% included access keys.

With a possible score of 15 available, the average mark achieved was only 3.8. Top marks of 9 were recorded, but some context is provided with the knowledge that this only equates the average score attained by the UK top 100 universities in a similar study conducted by Nomensa last year. Watson says:

“Businesses are not only failing to publically demonstrate their commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR), they are also dismissing the simple economic truth - the more people that can use your services, the more revenue you will generate.”

Nomensa founder Simon Norris agrees, saying:

“Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is more prevalent than ever, organisations need to realise that how effectively they communicate with people online must be a corner stone of their CSR strategy.”

The report provides an overview of the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act and indicates the steps required to make compliant technology that is both usable and accessible.

Believing that knowledge and understanding are key components in the promotion of human centred design concepts, Nomensa have broken down each category evaluated and explained why it is so important and how it affects different people.

Watson firmly believes that the future looks promising:

“We are already aware of certain companies who have launched new web sites in the last few months and we’re interested in gaugeing how marked the trend toward universal design is becoming.”

It is possible to request The Nomensa FTSE 100 Accessibility Report from the Nomensa web site.

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments Off Posted by Ian on Thursday, March 25, 2004

Meeting with Eric Velleman

Me and a friend were invited by Eric Velleman from Stichting Accessibility, a Dutch accessibility platform based at Bartim�us. For about an hour and a half we have discussed accessibility issues and a saw how software and hardware (for braille) works.

Some information was new for me, I never really thought about reasons to include the type of graphic (until yesterday, I told everyone it shouldn’t be done that way). It seems that adding a prefix or explaining in the alternate text what kind of graphic it is, like: “Picture: Our garden in the summer” is important for blind people. That way they don’t miss that aspect of the site. I always thought that such information was redundant and could better be left out of a web page, because people are not looking for that kind of information. However, blind people appreciate that extra information so they can talk and discuss about it (who are you to decide what information is available).

Another question we had is how blind people consume enormous amounts of links (like a nice ordered lists with 60 list items). People without a sight disability can easily scan those lists, but if such information was spoken it would take a long time (and it will be hard to focus), we thought. Eric told us that blind people use the build in search future of browsers quite a lot to find the information they need in a small amount of time.

Overall it is quite easy to create an accessible site, today’s software is good. Stick to the standards, use ALT on the IMG element correct and visit the site with Lynx, you will be fine.

(We also asked about WCAG 2.0, he told us we have to wait until the end of 2005 before that specification becomes a recommendation.)

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments Off Posted by Accessify on Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Talking about accessibility

IRC users and people who should really be working may be glad to know that there is now a dedicated channel on called #accessibility.

The channel is already frequented by several WAI members and you will also find me there most of the day (timr), for you to pose your questions and comments on web accessibility related matters.

If you dont fancy lurking, or you want to see what goes on before you join in, the logs are posted daily at There is also a bot called “chumpy” who collects links posted to the site and builds an accessibilty-link-log. You can view the link-logs at

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments Off Posted by Accessify on Thursday, March 18, 2004

Activities, initiatives and accessibility challenges at SXSW

Ian Lloyd invited input from us here in Austin about our activities, initiatives and accessibility challenges. So, of course, we start with the blow-out we just had at SXSW Interactive. Not only were there 5 panels specifically about accessibility, even those not specific to the topic gave a nod of recognition to the fact that accessibility was a need to be reckoned with. Wendy Chisholm was at the conference for the first time and was pleased to see the issue so prominently featured in a mainstream forum. Plenty of great discussion. I’m still processing and will post follow-up after I get some sleep…maybe next week, since the music part of the fest continues.

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments Off Posted by Accessify on Wednesday, March 17, 2004


Tell Me What’s Up

If you’re currently at SXSW2004 and happen to be reading this
page there, why not track me down and tell me what you’d like to see in Accessify?
I’m thinking about re-working some of the site and/or content over coming months
to address little issues I’ve found (much of it due to migrating from PC to
Mac and the overheads of updating the site) and your comments will be welcomed.
For others who might have an idea or two, drop me a line by email and we can
throw these ideas into one big pot to see what comes out the other side …
although that may not be for a long while yet.

Thanks folks.

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments Off Posted by Ian on Sunday, March 14, 2004

Cookiecrook Pleads for User Responsibility

Presenting an argument very similar to my own catch-phrase “the onus is also on the user”, James Craig aka cookiecrook muses that, as much as developers can strive to create an accessible site, the users have to effectively meet them half-way by using the correct technology that is suited to their needs.

James discussed the topic of User
Responsibility for Web Accessibility
during the Web
Navigation Without A Guide Dog
panel at SXSW
conference yesterday … expecting to see a more thorough article coming
up on the issue.

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments Off Posted by Patrick H. Lauke on Sunday, March 14, 2004

Ya Basta

(enough is enough)As the only resident of Spain on the news team at Accessify, I would like to offer our thoughts to the friends and families of the Madrid victims.

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments Off Posted by Accessify on Saturday, March 13, 2004

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0

Ian Lloyd asked me if I wanted to write a post once and a while concerning accessibility. I was pleased by his invitation and accepted it, not completely sure what kind of posts I was going to write. However, it seems that I have some luck. The W3C released a new Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 working draft two days ago.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) published the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0
(WCAG 1.0) as a Recommendation in May 1999. This Working Draft for version 2.0 builds on WCAG 1.0. It has the same aim: to explain how to make Web content accessible to people with disabilities and to define target levels of accessibility. Incorporating feedback on WCAG 1.0, this Working Draft of version 2.0 focuses on guidelines. It attempts to apply guidelines to a wider range of technologies and to use wording that may be understood by a more varied audience.

This draft contains more generalized accessibility guidelines than WCAG 1.0, which means that they removed all HTML specific issues and replaced those with more general explanation. Although it just a draft and not yet a recommendation it might be interesting to read the following document: Mapping Between WCAG 1.0 and the WCAG 2.0 Working Draft.

As you can see (and read) is that the new guidelines are better structured. Compared to the current recommendation I think it certainly is an improvement.

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments Off Posted by Accessify on Saturday, March 13, 2004


Accessibility and Search Engines - A Marriage Made in Heaven

I’ve long said to people when explaining the benefits of an accessible web site that it can really *really* improve your placings in search results. Sometimes people get it, sometimes it falls on deaf ears. I’d considered writing an article just on this matter but old mother time got the better of me. Thankfully, Brendan Olejniczak has written an article covering just this topic over at Digital Web entitled Optimizing Your Chances with Accessibility. Go check it out then add it to your armoury for the next time someone asks you “Why should I bother with this accessibility stuff?”.

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments Off Posted by Ian on Friday, March 12, 2004
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