A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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Accessibility is a general term used to describe the degree to which a product (e.g., device, service, environment) is accessible by as many people as possible, and the ventures to produce accessible products and services. Accessibility is often used to focus on people with disabilities and their right of access to entities, often through use of assistive technology.



Effectively Teaching in the Mainstream Classroom: Assistive Technologies for Students with Auditory Disabilities

As a future teacher, I want to do my best to accommodate all students in the classroom. Children have the right to learn, no matter their disability or difficulties in learning. In addition, I feel that teaching children with disabilities in the same classroom as regular students provides life lessons that all students will take with them throughout their lives.

Fischer, Erin. Orange Journal, The (2010). Articles>Education>Accessibility


Effects of Pictures, Age, and Experience on Learning to Use a Computer Program   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Research indicates that older people generally do not process information differently than younger people do. Instead, 'the main difference ... seems to be that elderly users are less capable in dealing with any shortcomings in the manuals than younger users. The impact of badly designed manuals is usually greater for elderly people,' (van Hees 1996, p. 531). In line with this view, Hartley (1994) suggests that 'text will be easier for older people to use when their perceptual and memory processing loads are reduced' (p. 171). Although the criteria for good design remain a bit unclear, we can accept the general idea that designing well will help the elderly.

van der Meij, Hans and Mark Gellevij. Technical Communication Online (2002). Design>Accessibility>Software>Elderly


An Eight-Step Implementation Model

The inaccessibility of web content can have a significant impact on the lives of individuals with disabilities. Many people without disabilities are ignorant of the importance of the issue to those who are directly affected. They are also often ignorant of the tremendous benefit that accessible web content can be. Accessible web sites offer independence to individuals with disabilities that would otherwise not have it.

WebAIM (2006). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>Project Management


eLearning: Do You Need Both Screen Captions and Voiceover Narration?

Because learners are trying to pay attention to the visuals, the need to move their eyes to focus on the accompanying caption is a distraction. Having a voiceover explain the visual enables the learner to absorb the audio and visual information at the same time. So my decision to turn off the audio was a mistake. I would have had a better learning experience if I had listened to the audio while focusing on the videos and ignoring the printed captions at the bottom of the screen. So does that mean eLearning should never include screen captions? Of course not. Sometimes screen captions are required simply because there is no voiceover or the learner may not have access to the voiceover.

Ruby, Jennie. I Came, I Saw, I Learned (2010). Articles>Education>Accessibility>Multimedia


Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards (Section 508)

The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board) is issuing final accessibility standards for electronic and information technology covered by section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998. Section 508 requires the Access Board to publish standards setting forth a definition of electronic and information technology and the technical and functional performance criteria necessary for such technology to comply with section 508. Section 508 requires that when Federal agencies develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology, they shall ensure that the electronic and information technology allows Federal employees with disabilities to have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to the access to and use of information and data by Federal employees who are not individuals with disabilities, unless an undue burden would be imposed on the agency. Section 508 also requires that individuals with disabilities, who are members of the public seeking information or services from a Federal agency, have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to that provided to the public who are not individuals with disabilities, unless an undue burden would be imposed on the agency.

Access Board, The (2000). Resources>Web Design>Accessibility>Section 508


Embedded Links and Online Reading Accessibility: Whitney Quesenbery and Caroline Jarrett

In this video, I talk with Whitney Quesenbery and Caroline Jarrett about the feasibility of removing links embedded directly within paragraphs — which Kathryn Summers and Ginny Redish describe as “exit points” that confuse and disorient low-literacy readers.

Johnson, Tom H., Whitney Quesenbery and Caroline Jarrett. I'd Rather Be Writing (2010). Articles>Interviews>Accessibility>Usability


Engaging Learners with Various Training Methods

While preparing these workshops, I knew that I would be addressing people from many backgrounds. My own background is in education. In pursuing my Master's program in Instructional Technology, I began working on a distance education project for special educators. It was my first introduction to Web accessibility. I eventually came to work at WebAIM where Web accessibility has become my primary interest. Currently, I am coordinating WebAIM's K-12 education initiative. My path to Web accessibility is very unique, as is yours. I would love to hear why you are here learning how to become a better accessibility trainer.

WebAIM (2001). Articles>Education>Accessibility


Engineering Software for Accessibility   (Word)

If a majority of your users could benefit from your product being accessible, doesn’t it just make sense to build an accessible product? If you have decided to do so, you are sending a message to your customers that their needs matter. Populations in many countries are getting older. Civil rights for people with disabilities are gradually being extended to encompass digital inclusion. Governments are requiring procurement officials to purchase products that are the most accessible (mandated in the U.S. by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act). For technology producers, creating accessible products is just the right thing to do, and it makes good business sense.

Grieves, Jason and Masahiko Kaneko. Microsoft (2009). Books>Accessibility>Programming>User Interface


Ensuring Accessibility for People With Color-Deficient Vision

If you do not consider the needs of people with color-deficient vision when choosing color schemes for applications and Web pages, those you create may be difficult to use or even indecipherable for about one in twelve users.

Gabriel-Petit, Pabini. UXmatters (2007). Design>User Interface>Accessibility>Color


Essential Components of Web Accessibility

This document shows how Web accessibility depends on several components working together and how improvements in specific components could substantially improve Web accessibility. It also shows how the WAI guidelines address these components.

Henry, Shawn Lawton. W3C (2006). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility


European Design for All e-Accessibility Network

The European Design for All e-Accessibility Network is a network of 160 organisations in EU member states. The goal of the network is to support all citizens' access to the Information Society.

EDeAN. Organizations>Accessibility>Regional>Europe


Evaluating Existing Audio CAPTCHAs and an Interface Optimized for Non-Visual Use   (PDF)

Audio CAPTCHAs were introduced as an accessible alternative for those unable to use the more common visual CAPTCHAs, but anecdotal accounts have suggested that they may be more difficult to solve. This paper demonstrates in a large study of more than 150 participants that existing audio CAPTCHAs are clearly more difficult and time-consuming to complete as compared to visual CAPTCHAs for both blind and sighted users. In order to address this concern, we developed and evaluated a new interface for solving CAPTCHAs optimized for non-visual use that can be added in-place to existing audio CAPTCHAs. In a subsequent study, the optimized interface increased the success rate of blind participants by 59% on audio CAPTCHAs, illustrating a broadly applicable principle of accessible design: the most usable audio interfaces are often not direct translations of existing visual interfaces.

Bigham, Jeffrey P. and Anna C. Cavender. University of Washington-Seattle (2008). Articles>Accessibility>Security>Web Design


Evaluating Forms

To demonstrate an example of some accessibility issues in HTML Forms, the following content intentionally has accessibility errors.

Abou-Zahra, Shadi. W3C (2004). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>Forms


Evaluating Web Sites for Accessibility

This document outlines approaches for preliminary review Web site accessibility, and for evaluation of conformance to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0. While it does not provide checkpoint-by-checkpoint testing techniques it does include general procedures and tips for evaluation during development of Web sites, and for monitoring of established Web sites. Other resources will be developed for in-depth compliance testing. The measures described here are intended to supplement an organization's existing procedures for content management and quality assurance on their Web sites. For information about why making Web sites accessible is important read the Introductions on the WAI Resources page.

W3C. Articles>Accessibility>Usability>Web Design


Evaluation of Websites for Older Adults: How "Senior-Friendly" Are They?

Thirty-six websites designed for older adults were evaluated as to how well they complied to 25 'senior-friendly' guidelines recommended by the National Institute of Aging. Results indicate that a majority of the sites complied to guidelines related to basic navigation and content style but not for text size, text weight, or site map availability. Implications of compliance to these guidelines on user satisfaction and performance are discussed.

Hart, Traci A. Usability News (2004). Design>Web Design>Accessibility>Elderly


Examining WAI-ARIA Document Landmark Roles

WAI-ARIA defines document landmark roles to help define the structure of a document. Document landmark roles have two purposes; they help assistive technology users orientate themselves within a document, and they provide a mechanism for users to navigate documents. The following document landmark roles are defined in ARIA.

Lemon, Gez. Juicy Studio (2008). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>Standards


Examining WAI-ARIA Properties

I've added a function to the toolbar to display all ARIA roles and properties defined in a document. The properties are displayed in a new tab, along with the value of the property, the element the role is defined on, the parent nodes, and the markup fragment.

Lemon, Gez. Juicy Studio (2008). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>Standards


Examples: WAI Web Content Accessibility Curriculum

Provides details or examples of one or more techniques that are associated with a particular checkpoint. Where possible, the examples are actually coded so that you will see how that particular technique displays or renders on your browser or user agent. In most cases, the markup that creates the 'live' example is also provided (although you can also 'View Source' to get the exact coding). Where necessary, some text is included to explain what is 'supposed' to happen (for example, if an HTML 4 attribute is not widely supported yet), or for user of non-graphical or older browsers.

Letourneau, Chuck and Geoff Freed. W3C. Design>Web Design>Accessibility>Education


Expanding Your Training Skills and Knowledge

Becoming an effective accessibility trainer and teacher does not happen overnight. For some, the ability to effectively teach others comes naturally. For others, a lot of work is involved. An accessibility trainer must be a Jack-of-all-trades, and an Ace of a few as well. The more tools you have at your convenience, the more effective you will be.

WebAIM (2005). Design>Web Design>Accessibility


Exploiting Web Tools to Make HTML Documents Accessible

More accessible documents through authoring tool supports. Exploit mainstream tools for easier information retrieval and document manipulation.

Treviranus, Jutta and Jan Richards . University of Toronto (2004). Presentations>Web Design>Accessibility>Software


Exploring Speech Recognition And Synthesis APIs In Windows Vista

Windows Vista includes a built-in speech recognition user interface designed specifically for users who need to control Windows® and enter text without using a keyboard or mouse. There is also a state-of-the-art general purpose speech recognition engine. Not only is this an extremely accurate engine, but it's also available in a variety of languages. Windows Vista also includes the first of the new generation of speech synthesizers to come out of Microsoft, completely rewritten to take advantage of the latest techniques.

Brown, Robert. MSDN Magazine (2006). Articles>Accessibility>Audio>Voice


Facts and Opinion About Fahrner Image Replacement

Fahrner Image Replacement and its analogues aim to combine the benefits of high design with the requirements of accessibility. But how well do these methods really work? Accessibility expert Joe Clark digs up much-needed empirical data on how FIR works (and doesn’t) in leading screen readers.

Clark, Joe. List Apart, A (2003). Design>Web Design>Accessibility>Usability


Facts and Opinions About PDF Accessibility

PDF accessibility is not as straightforward as HTML accessibility. But it can be done, if you put the same care into marking up your PDFs that you put into marking up websites. Joe Clark tells all.

Clark, Joe. List Apart, A (2005). Design>Document Design>Accessibility>Adobe Acrobat


Fast Track to Web Accessibility in 5 Steps

Sometimes you don't have the time to sit down and plan out the ideal Web site. Maybe you've just recently been appointed as your organization's webmaster, or have recently been assigned to oversee accessibility operations at your organization, and you discover that your Web site has gaping holes in its accessibility. Rather than panic, you should start with the biggest problems and work your way through the site until you have fixed all of the accessibility errors. After you've 'plugged the holes,' then you can start thinking about a new design, but not until then. This workshop presents a 'fast track to accessibility' that prioritizes your tasks of sorting through and fixing your site's accessibility problems.

Bohman, Paul. WebAIM (2003). Design>Web Design>Accessibility>Project Management


Fieldsets, Legends and Screen Readers

The grouping and labelling of thematically related controls within a form is an important aspect of providing semantic information so users can understand and complete a form successfully. Differences in quality and implementation of support across user agents can hamper some users' ability to benefit from this information. This must not be taken as disincentive to developers, as the benefits of using these elements outweighs the negatives. But it is clear that some assistive technology vendors need to improve implementation of HTML features that enhance accessibility, so their users can gain the most benefit.

Lemon, Gez. Paciello Group, The (2007). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>Semantic



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