Tackling Accessibility Issues

Access to all of our K12 Online Conference 2007- Playing with Boundaries - websites is critical. Lack of access can create barriers and awareness of those barriers should be foremost in our minds as we plan our online activities. Check the resources, suggestions, and issues we have gathered for you to help make everyone welcome. Enjoy the conference! ~ Lee Baber, Kaj Rietberg, James Stanger, Jeremy Brown and Karen Janowski

General Accessibilty Web Sites:


Keep in mind several different kinds of browsers that might:
  • render web content as Braille - transferring information into Braille is done by means of a Braille display, which is a strip located in front of the computer keyboard. The strip consists of 40 or 80 signs. A fine mechanism controls small pins which go up and down and represent the letters of the Braille alphabet. Those who have been taught to work with Braille displays read the text with their fingertips. The Braille display is much more precise than a speech output system, because it is able to check the spelling much faster. A speech output system has to spell out words it does not recognize.
  • using voice synthesis - read a web page through a speaker. Such a user agent (browser) might also be used by non-handicapped people to access the web in their car, while they're driving. Websites are interpreted by the speech output system or the Braille display in a way that lets visually impaired people comprehend the contents and navigate in the WWW. This is only possible, however, when the pages are designed to comply with the rules for increasing accessibility. This compatibility is important, because the screen readers have certain limits and requirements in terms of the design.
  • blow up the font size very large, for those with limited vision.
  • browser may handle only text.
  • additionally, there are also ways of specifying the language (English, Spanish, etc.) in use on a particular page. And this specification would be used by, e.g. a voice-synthesizer, to pick appropriate pronunciation.
  • Opera - provides many great tools and accessibility tools out of the box. http://www.opera.com/products/desktop/ Some examples are:
    1. Zoom - You can zoom the contents of any Web page from 20%-1000% using the zoom dropdown or the + and - keys.
    2. Text size and colors - You can change text size and color, link styling or background color to your liking in Tools > Preferences > Web pages.
    3. User style sheets - Opera comes with a set of ready-made style sheets, including accessibility style.

Web Site Standards

Keep the following in mind: "In order to meet the standards, websites need to write text descriptions of pictures and multimedia files; need to be easily navigable using text commands, mouse, or keyboard alone; and should avoid frames and pop-up windows that screen readers can't translate, among other things. Remember, even when using Web 2.0 tools, you can make choices to help with accessibility. Decide what out of a set of options would be 'less bad' for all users of your site. Pleases look over these Checkpoints for creating accessible webpages.
  • WebXACT (formally known as Bobby) - is a free online service that lets you test single pages of web content for quality, accessibility, and privacy issues. The WebXACT accessibility checker is an automated tool enabling you to check some of the accessibility issues your web pages may have. However, like all automated accessibility checking tools, it must be used in conjunction with manual testing to gain a complete picture of the accessibility of your pages. For instance the tool will be able to check that there are no missing "alts" for images, but it will not be able to determine whether or not the alt text assigned is meaningful and appropriate. http://webxact.watchfire.com/
  • Wave (http://www.wave.webaim.org/wave35/index.jsp): Similar, and likely more detailed than Bobby.
  • Web Standards and Accessibility Guide - Queen's University design tips for colour, font, navigation, image maps, photos, images, and icons.
  • CHECKPOINTS for creating accessible webpages.

Color Blindness

Screen Size Testing

Text Readability

  • JuicyStudio - And don't just focus on technical accessibility. What about the cognitive dissonance caused by prose that is difficult to understand? Here's a site that purports to help folks make stuff easier to read: http://juicystudio.com/services/readability.php The tool might not be all that great, but using it might help raise questions about site readability.
  • Adobe - From the Kings of Ruining Accessibility Everywhere (Adobe) Flash and PDF are major accessibility killers. Here are some tips from the creators themselves. http://www.adobe.com/accessibility/
  • Font Style and Size Guide - Queen's University describes how to decide what font and size to use

Browser Add-ons

Disability Tools

Text to Speech

Commenting for the Blind

  • Graphical verification (such as Captcha) prevents users who are blind from commenting on blog posts - an alternative is WP Gatekeeper at http://meyerweb.com/eric/tools/wordpress/wp-gatekeeper.html/ WP-Gatekeeper is a comment-spam defense plugin for WordPress 1.5. Upon installing it, a challenge will automatically be added to comment forms: "What color is an orange?". In order to post, the commenter must enter the correct answer. The strength of Gatekeeper is that it allows you to create any number of challenges you like, and picks one at random to insert into the comment form. You can also define your own markup template as well as manually place the challenge in your comment forms, should you so desire. A screen readers should pick up the question.

Translation Tools

Translating text to another language will make a webpage more accessible. There are a number of online translation-machines but only Babelfish and freetranslation.com can be put into a website. I think that's the best way to do it because then you give visitors already the tool into their hands and that makes it for the visitor easier. If it is easier then people will stay on the website. Look at the description of each translation tool because some translate to more languages then others. For example Google doesn't translate to Dutch.
  • Babelfish [http://babelfish.altavista.com/ of Altavista; translates texts and complete web pages. It is available for very many languages, certainly from English. It is possible to add Babelfish to a website[http://www.altavista.com/help/free/free_searchbox_transl.
  • Free translation [http://www.freetranslation.com/; translates text and complete webpages from English to several languages. It has also a professional solution, but you have to pay for that. There is the possibility of downloading the Google toolbar [http://www.freetranslation.com/tools/google-toolbar/ of their site and in it sits then freetransaltion.com, but if you have the Google toolbar you can add freetranslation.com. Furthermore you can add their tool to your website [http://www.freetranslation.com/tools/applets/. If you put it on your website you have different possibilities to choose from.You can choose a tool which translates in several languages or you can choose a tool that only translates to 1 language.
  • Systran [http://www.systran.co.uk/; translates texts and complete web pages.It assists many languages. They have also professional possibilities. I can find no possibilities on the Internet site to place this translation machine on a website.
  • Google [http://www.google.com/translate_t; Google has a page where a text or a web page can be translated. There are several languages in which it can be translated, but I miss Dutch and several languages are in Beta. It is possible to put the Google Translation browser button in your favorites toolbar in your browser, then a page is translated from 1 language to 1 language. But also no Dutch. It is not possible to integrate Google translation in a website.
  • Microsoft [http://translator.live.com/; Microsoft has a webpage where you can translate a text and website. You can translate to several languages. It is not possible to integrate this translation tool in a website. If you want a professional solution the website refers to Systran.

Kaj's weblog is http://www.kajrietberg.nl/ He wrote an article [http://www.kajrietberg.nl/?p=248] about translation on his blog for the K12conference. But he wrote it in Dutch. You can translate the article by going to this: [http://babelfish.altavista.com/%5D.%7CThen copy the link and the article will be translated in the languages you want. Click here to see the article in Dutch. ~Kaj is mainly in charge of the Translation tools section of this wiki.


The National Service Inclusion Project www.serviceandinclusion.org
http://www.ataccess.org /resources/lowcostnocost.html
User Focus: http://www.userfocus.co.uk/resources/accesstools.html
Top 10 Accessibility: http://www.abilitynet.org.uk/webarticle26
Nonprofits/Civil Society -- Resources & Services www.coyotecommunications.com/
International Development Work & Studies www.coyotecommunications.com /development
http://digitaldivide.net /mailman/listinfo/digitaldivid e
James Stanger - VCampus Corporation
University of Oxford http://www.ox.ac.uk/web/guides/accessible.shtml
Text to Speech - most of this list has been provided by the Rapid Fire blog.

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