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Accessibility Training Report

handicapped logo and title for Creting Accessible Technology


Instructional Presentation Handout
presented at the:

Teaching With Technology Conference, June 2002
Center for Innovations in Teaching and Technology Workshop, May 2002

Accessibility and the Internet: What you need to know
Teaching with Technology, 2002
Jennifer Light, Kim Hansen, Travis Chillemi

Introduction
With the increase in user-friendly web design software on the market, almost anyone with a computer, and a place to put a website, can design their own web page in a matter of minutes. Even inexperienced computer users can put a digital picture or audio clip on a web page with free online tutorials or low-cost software. As confidence builds and skills improve, web pages become more sophisticated and websites may blossom into multimedia masterpieces. However, it is important to realize that there are a number of steps and procedures to follow to ensure that your site will be accessible to users with disabilities.

This issue becomes increasingly important for people who want to make their websites widely marketable and accessible to aging and diversely abled populations. As you become more acquainted with accessible web sites you will find that most useable sites also follow good design principles of navigation and information architecture, and graphic design. Therefore, creating accessible websites has a beneficial effect for all users, not just those who need the accessible features.

This interactive workshop will help you see what a site looks like from a disabled person’s viewpoint. It will present how to retrofit a site for accessibility under the 7 topics we use most often, and show some of the tools that are currently on the market to aid you in creating accessible websites.Designing for Accessibility
Making a totally accessible website takes commitment and education. It is time consuming to learn the advance features in web design software necessary to removing obstacles to accessibility. It takes energy and empathy to gain insight as to what a disabled person experiences viewing your site. Finally, it takes time to check your work and make sure the website is accessible.

Currently there is help in designing accessible websites. Since the federal government passed the 1998 Amendment to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation act of 1973, there are suddenly hundreds of websites addressing accessibility and the web. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), founded in 1994 at MIT, is a group of technology experts who set standards for the Internet and the web. W3C's long term goals for the Web are Universal Access, which strives to make the Web accessible to all by promoting technologies that take into account the vast differences in culture, education, ability, material resources, and physical limitations of users on all continents. In pursuit of this goal, the W3C has developed a set of standards for web accessibility.

This list of standards is quite long so we’ve narrowed it down to the 7 accessibility topics we use most often at CITT

site organization
image maps
multimedia
links
images
graphs & charts
tables

While designing for accessibility it is easy to feel overwhelmed trying to create a site free of obstacles for every conceivable disability. However it is our experience that by using these guides you should be able to increase the accessibility for the vast majority of disabled viewers.

Defining Dissability and Adaptive Devices
When issues relating to accessibility are addressed, people forget the continuum of mild to severe disabilities people experience. This is especially relevant when reflecting on our rapidly aging population of web users. While there are a significant number of Internet users with visual impairments, there are also many users with auditory, cognitive and mobility impairments. It is important to remember that disability for all of us is just an illness, accident, or simply an age away. The following table will give you an idea of the various disabilities and their corresponding assistive devices used to overcome obstacles to access information.

Topic Disabilities Assistive Devices
Visual Blindness or complete loss of sight
Legally blind, low or limited vision
Weak, dim, or tunnel vision
Glaucoma and Cataracts
Extreme near or farsightedness
Color blindness
Eye Fatigue
Screen Readers
Braille printer
Refreshable Braille display
Screen magnifier
Personal Data Assistant
Control of font size and color
Control of contrast and background
Start/stop/pause/replay
Auditory Deaf or complete loss of hearing
Hard of hearing
High or low frequency loss
Captioning
Volume control
Headphones
Start/stop/pause/replay
Mobility Repetitive stress injuries
Arthritis
Stroke
ALS (Lou Gerhig's disease)
Spinal cord injuries
Loss of limbs or digits
Short-term disabilities (i.e. broken arm)
Head Pointer
Voice Recognition software
Alternative Keyboards
Cognitive Downs Syndrome
Alzheimer’s Disease
Reading disorders (i.e. Dyslexia)
Learning disorders
ADD Screen Readers
Word prediction software

7 Accessibility Design Fundamentals
Since the federal government passed the 1998 Amendment to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation act of 1973, there are suddenly hundreds of websites addressing accessibility and the web. At the forefront, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is a group of technology experts who set standards for the Internet and the web. W3C’s long-term goal for the Web is Universal Access, which strives to make the Web accessible to all by promoting technologies that take into account the vast differences in culture, education, ability, material resources, and physical limitations of users on all continents. In pursuit of this goal, the W3C has developed a set of standards for web accessibility. This list of standards is quite long so we’ve narrowed it down to the 7 accessibility design topics the Technology and Learning Team use most often for designing accessible training: site organization, image maps, multimedia, links, images, graphs & charts, and tables.

While designing for accessibility it is easy to feel overwhelmed trying to create a site free of obstacles for every conceivable disability. However, it is our experience that by using these seven accessibility topics there should be an increase in accessibility for the vast majority of disabled viewers.

Topic Why is it important? Things to remember
Site organization Helps people with cognitive disabilities
Important for screen readers
Adheres to basic site design principles
Clear and intuitive navigation
Headers
Page titles
Image maps Important for screen readers Descriptive navigational alt tags
Multimedia
Provides content to persons with visual and aural disabilities
Captioning
Text transcripts
Links Important for screen readers Fully describe where the user is linking to
Images Important for screen readers Descriptive alt tags
Graphs & Charts Important for screen readers
Helps people with cognitive disabilities
Captioning
Tables Important for screen readersHelps people with cognitive disabilities
Adheres to basic site design principles
Headers


Accessibility resources
Useful URLs
CAST (Center for Applied Special technology) is a resource for finding the : http://www.cast.org
RNIB Clear print guidelines for visually impaired:
www.rnib.org.uk/wesupply/fctsheet/clearp.htm
WAI (Web Accessibility Initiative) : Quick resource for accessibility tools and tips.
W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) : Created the standards for accesibility used by many federa and state guidelines , information about Universal Access www.w3.org

Web accessibility checkers:
Bobby: A quick check on the accessibility of a site. Bobbycheck will tell you in detail what is wrong with you site and how you can fix it using the W3C standards.www.cast.org/bobby
Lynx View: Shows you what your site will look like through a text-mode browser when you remove images from your page.
www.delorie.com/web/lynxview.html

Web authoring and validation services:
W3C HTML TIDY: TIDY is a free utility to help you identify and edit where you need to modify your pages to be more accessible to people with disabilities.
www.w3.org/People/Raggett/tidy
W3C HTML Validation Service: It checks HTML documents for compliance with W3C HTML Recommendations and other HTML standards.
www.mirror.ac.uk/services/validator

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