February 27, 2006
A bit late in reporting this, due to current workload…but:
One of the most challenging marriages is that of accessibility with style. Some erroneously think in general terms that the two are in complete opposition; meaning that an accessible site needs to be low-key and bland, and that a highly-styled site can’t very well be that accessible. This false belief is echoed mostly by the mainstream development community. Those who really know web accessibility know that the marriage, while not necessarily simple, is certainly possible. And very worthwhile if done right as it combines the best of both worlds and has the highest general appeal.
The Team Access members at the newly-launched Accessites.org are on a mission. They’re trying to change this thinking and push web accessibility into the mainstream by showcasing accessible websites that have managed to shrug off the “I’m accessible” look. For those that manage this, they will be rewarded with an iconic pat-on-the-back and a permanent salute honoring them for their achievement. But it goes a little deeper than that.
Unlike many “awards” organisations, Accessites.org has very strict criteria for submissions that is in itself a development benchmark worth reaching? then the grading begins. The Accessites grading checklist is transparent so everyone knows what is expected and what will be looked at. And due to the needs of mainstream developers and webmasters in general, many other facets of proper development will be considered as well: usability, search engine optimization, universality, standards compliance, the works. It all goes hand-in-hand in the real world.
To the general public design carries great importance. Being as such, beauty in design is as nearly as important as basic accessibility. And it is with the general public that accessibility must begin. Do you have a site or know of one that shatters the accessible-is-boring stereotype? If so, Team Access wants to see it. Please take a moment, read the criteria, and submit the perfect site.
Two upcoming tutorials from W3C’s Shawn Henry:
February 14, 2006
AbilityNet are seeking to recruit for immediate start a number of web accessibility consultants to work in London. They must be well versed in HTML, WCAG1.0 and be able to present reports to customers. Experience of access technologies and disability desirable but not essential. Salary £24-28k. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Perhaps it’s a little early to mention, but Austin (Texas) based accessibility group Knowbility are putting together a special two-day web accessibility training session entitled Access U 2006. From their site:
An intensive, two-day training conference to provide professional web masters all they need to know about how and why to create web sites that meet federal, state, and industry mandates for accessibility. Accessibility University will help you develop policy, meet standards, understand how to use testing tools and much much more. You will have the unequalled opportunity to meet accessibility experts and learn from them how to ensure that your on-line applications are accessible to everyone.
Registration is open now.
February 12, 2006
With all the hoo-ha currently taking place over the Target.com
rather surprising comments from the web design and building community),
perhaps it’s worth remembering that in the world of web accessibility we’re
not solely concerned with blind users. I was recently sent a note from Jesper
Rønn-Jensen regarding a post on his blog, and I thought it was worth
25% of all web users are disabled
At least that’s what the Danish Center for Accessibility have claimed. The
point they make (and admittedly it’s not a new one) is that there are many
other factors at play that can affect how usable or accessible your web site
may be. Whether you agree with the definition of accessibility here, it’s still
a timely reminder that there are a lot of people out there who may have issues
with how your web site works.
So, do your best now. That includes you too, Target.
Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 78 has been developed by the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) in collaboration with BSI. This PAS outlines good practice in commissioning websites that are accessible to and usable by disabled people.
1-Day Launch event - How to Enhance Your e-Business, 8 March 2006, Novotel London West, London W6
Launching Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 78 - Guide to Good Practice in Commissioning Accessible Websites
Utilising the Latest Guidelines on Website Accessibility to Underpin Your Company’s Business Strategy and Optimize Returns
More information about the event is available from the BSI Business Information page on PAS 78.
The fourth annual Visionary Design Awards, sponsored by Barclays, will be held at the Russell Hotel, London on Thursday 2 March 2006.
Red Dwarf and Scrapheap Challenge star Robert Llewellyn will host the awards ceremony, which will recognise achievement in accessible web design.
Awards will be made for best practice in accessible design of websites for children, young adults, public sector, commercial enterprises, voluntary sector, and news and information. There will also be a presentation of a Special Award for Innovation to a website which is accessible but has also excelled in creating a unique and interesting experience for the visitor too.
For further information on the Visionary Design Awards please contact Claire Briscoe, Press and PR Officer on 0161 355 2050 or via email at email@example.com
See the NLB’s Visionary Design site for further details.
February 9, 2006
A US retail chain has found itself up in court in California over its inaccessible web site. The National Federation of the Blind have claimed discimination by the retail giant and are looking at raising a class action on behalf of all blind Californians who want to use the site. It looks like this one could be a biggie, as far as ‘quotable’ accessibility cases go. I particularly like the way that NBC news explain the technical side of things, asserting that Target.com "fails to include features such as an invisible code embedded beneath images that would enable blind customers to use the screen-reading software." Once again, the most basic accessibility requirement - and one that is just so darn easy to fix - has been overlooked. Much to Target’s inconvenience. I’ll be watching this one with interest.