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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.



Fifteen Personas of IT Users with Disabilities

The ÆGIS project has a gift for you – 15 personas of IT users with disabilities. No more procrastination on your projects! Personas are hypothetical archetypes of actual users. Although they are imaginary, they are defined with significant rigour and precision. This level of accuracy can only be reached by founding the personas on real data obtained from field research studying real people. The aim here is to make them approachable for all members of a project-team so that developers, designers, managers and other stakeholders can develop empathy for their end-users.

Mardahl, Karen. STC AccessAbility SIG (2010). Articles>User Centered Design>Accessibility>Personas


Flash Access: Unclear on the Concept

In Christian theology, it doesn’t matter exactly when you accept Jesus Christ as your personal saviour. As long as you do it before you croak and ask forgiveness for your sins, you’re in like Flynn. This, apparently, is the Macromedia philosophy when it comes to accessibility. The company’s flagship product, Flash, is intrinsically inaccessible to anyone who cannot see properly and is very often inaccessible to a deaf or hard-of-hearing person. It’s also completely inaccessible on slow computers or any machine that lacks the Flash plug-in, rendering those viewers more functionally disabled than they actually are.

Clark, Joe. List Apart, A (2001). Design>Accessibility>Multimedia


Flash Accessibility Only on Windows?

Making Flash accessible is a good thing. However, accessible Flash is not perceivable by screen-reader users if they don’t use Windows. If a screen-reader user needs information that is contained in a Flash presentation, that user needs to be on Windows. Oops.

Mardahl, Karen. STC AccessAbility SIG (2010). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>Flash


Flash MX Accessibility Issues

When usability expert Jakob Nielsen proclaimed Flash was 99 percent bad, he was right on at least one account: accessibility. Until the release of Flash MX and the Flash 6 player, about 41 million disabled Web users could not take full advantage of Flash Web sites (According to World Bank in 2000). Even with Macromedia's move to support Section 508 guidelines, the government's plan for Web accessibility, the majority of Flash developers have not adopted the necessary best practices. Advertisement In previous versions of the Flash player, disabled Web users were unable to view any content generated by Flash. The Flash 6 player took a big step in this regard by retroactively providing text equivalents to the application's content. This change has allowed assistive Web browsers such as screen readers to view or speak Flash content. Many Flash developers question the need for Flash accessibility since proper accessibility requires a text-only version of existing Web content. This is a myth: images and animation can actually help users with nonvisual disabilities such as dyslexia. Flash can also benefit the blind by incorporating sound to notify the Web surfer of events.

Perry, Jason Michael. O'Reilly and Associates (2002). Design>Web Design>Accessibility>Flash


Flash MX: Moving Toward Accessible Rich Media

Macromedia released Flash MX in mid-March of 2002, including enhancements to the player and the authoring tool to improve accessibility for people with disabilities. Admittedly, some areas like screen reader access couldn’t possibly get any worse than they were in previous versions of the player: popular screen readers such as JAWS and Window-Eyes ignored Flash content completely. Other features, such as the ability to add captions (which has been available since Flash 5), benefit from improvements Macromedia made to the Flash architecture in this release. The changes have also automatically improved access to existing Flash content when viewed in the Flash Player 6, but to maximize Flash accessibility for your users you’ll need to publish content from Flash MX.

Kirkpatrick, Andrew. List Apart, A (2002). Design>Accessibility>Multimedia


Flash Usability

Those succeeding with Flash usually apply it as an element and mix it with other technologies or images such as streaming audio and video, GIF, JPG, DHTML, and CGI to name a few. Determine what elements you need on your site and study the strengths and weaknesses of each technology to determine which option would work best for each element. You're in good shape if you can use Flash without sacrificing accessibility, readability, navigability, usability, searchability, and ability to update.

Evans, Meryl K. Digital Web Magazine (2002). Design>Accessibility>Multimedia>Web Design


Flash, iPad, Standards

Lack of Flash in the iPad (and before that, in the iPhone) is a win for accessible, standards-based design. Not because Flash is bad, but because the increasing popularity of devices that don’t support Flash is going to force recalcitrant web developers to build the semantic HTML layer first. Additional layers of Flash UX can then be optionally added in, just as, in proper, accessible, standards-based development, JavaScript UX enhancements are added only after we verify that the site works without them.

Zeldman, Jeffrey. Zeldman.com (2010). Articles>Accessibility>Mobile>Web Design


Formal Objection to WCAG Claiming to Address Cognitive Limitations

Lisa Seeman intends to make a formal objection about WCAG 2.0's claim that they address all requirements for learning difficulties and cognitive limitations, as they do not have the success criteria to back up their claim. Moreover, there are known techniques that WCAG have not included, and people who do intend to cater for people with learning difficulties and cognitive limitations would benefit from knowing of these techniques.

Seeman, Lisa. Juicy Studio (2006). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>Cognitive Psychology


Four Easy Steps to Make Your Site More Usable to Older People

More and more senior citizens are using the Internet at a regular basis. And no matter what your niche is, you can be sure that there will always be older people who would find your site and would want to read what you have in store. This is more than enough reason to make your site more usable and accessible to the aging population. So to help you get started, here are 4 easy steps to make your site usable and accessible to older people.

Babinszki, Tom. Even Grounds (2010). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>Elderly


Fourteen Tech Tools that Enhance Computing for the Disabled

A new generation of gadgets, gizmos and software is making it easier for disabled computer users to travel the digital world, interact with others and get work done without hitting the roadblocks that older technologies imposed.

Nadel, Brian. ComputerWorld (2010). Articles>Accessibility>Technology


From Starfish to Butterfly ... the Amazing Story of the AccessAbility SIG   (PDF)

This paper describes the remarkable history of the Society's newest Special Interest Group--the AccessAbility SIG--tracing it back to its origins in 1997 as the Special Needs Committee (SNC). The SNC, founded by Judy Skinner, was originally chartered to assist technical communicators with disabilities in the practice of our profession by researching and publicizing assistive technologies and techniques to overcome those limitations. Over its 5-year lifespan, the committee expanded its mission to include a second overarching goal--assisting all technical communicators in developing information products that are fully accessible to end users with disabilities. Its accomplishments included a data-rich yet eye-pleasing online newsletter, an ever-growing comprehensive web site that is becoming a definitive resource on accessibility, and a robust and dynamic listserv.

Voss, Daniel W. STC Proceedings (2005). Articles>Accessibility>Community Building>STC


From the Mouth of a Screenreader

Talks about the history of screen reading software and how they analyse what is displayed on the screen in order to speak it to the user.

Geoffray, Doug. Yahoo (2007). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>Video


From Web Accessibility to Web Adaptability   (members only)

This article asserts that current approaches to enhance the accessibility of Web resources fail to provide a solid foundation for the development of a robust and future-proofed framework. In particular, they fail to take advantage of new technologies and technological practices. The article introduces a framework for Web adaptability, which encourages the development of Web-based services that can be resilient to the diversity of uses of such services, the target audience, available resources, technical innovations, organisational policies and relevant definitions of 'accessibility'. Method The article refers to a series of author-focussed approaches to accessibility through which the authors and others have struggled to find ways to promote accessibility for people with disabilities. These approaches depend upon the resource author's determination of the anticipated users' needs and their provision.

Kelly, B., L. Nevile, D. Sloan, S. Fanou, R. Ellison, and L. Herrod. Opus (2009). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility



FucinaWeb è un sito indipendente di risorse e articoli per sviluppatori e designer web che volge un occhio di riguardo alle problematiche di usabilità e accessibilità.

FucinaWeb. (Italian) Resources>Directories>Accessibility>Usability


The Future of Web Accessibility

Accessibility is currently in a great state of change - find out what the future hold for web accessibility and how this may affect your website.

Moss, Trenton. Webcredible (2006). Design>Web Design>Accessibility


General Concepts, Universal Design Principles and Guidelines

People who could benefit from more universal designs include many both with and without disabilities. In some cases, people may experience difficulty in using products purely as a result of the environment or an unusual circumstance. Beneficiaries of universal design include: * People in a noisy shopping mall who cannot hear a kiosk * People who are driving their car who must operate their radio or phone without looking at it * People who left their glasses in their room * People who are getting older * People with disabilities * Almost anyone In order to design for the general population, it is important to understand the diversity, problems, tools, and abilities of its members.

University of Wisconsin. Design>Usability>Accessibility>Universal Usability


Getting Started: Making a Web Site Accessible

An initial introduction to resources for people new to Web accessibility.

Brewer, Judy. W3C (2002). Design>Web Design>Accessibility


Getting to Know Voice

From a different world than the traditional browsing world comes a range of techniques that allows a developer to code for speech behaviours much easier than previously possible. Opera has early support for this. W3C is working on standards for combining speech and the ordinary graphical user interface.

Axelsson, Jonny. Opera (2008). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>Voice


Grid Design Basics: Grids for Web Page Layouts

Since tables were co-opted for layout purposes, columns have become key to many Web design layouts, and this thinking continued when CSS took over from tables (at least in the minds of savvy designers) for Web-page presentation. However, other fields of layout design don’t think in arbitrary columns, they work with grids, and these form the basis for the structure of page designs. This article will provide the lowdown on grid design for Web pages.

Grannell, Craig. Opera (2008). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>CSS


A Guide for Website Developers About How to Accommodate Users with Low Education, Low Motivation

Users with low education are users who have obtained limited level of education. These educationally disadvantaged people acquired and applied complex reasoning, but the lack of basic reading comprehension and communications skills hinder their success in education and skilled occupations. Low level of education effectively equals to functional illiteracy. Even though there is a significant increase in Internet use for individuals with elementary education (129%) from 1998 to 2000, only 9.1% of those with elementary education versus 75.5% with Bachelor's Degree or more uses the Internet [2]. More than one out of five adult Americans are functionally illiterate, and their ranks are swelling by about 2.3 million persons each year. Nearly 40 percent of minority youth and 30 percent of semiskilled and unskilled workers are illiterate [1]. It is hence necessary to address website accessibility issues pertaining to this group of users.

Lim, Ser Nam. Universal Usability (2001). Design>Usability>Accessibility


A Guide to Accessibility

An accessible site allows all users to access it, regardless of their browser, resolution, settings, or eyesight. Accessible sites are open to the world's 750 million disabled people, including the sizeable blind population. Through better authoring, Web information providers can avoid shutting out the world's disabled population from the information age, and can garner a good portion of this largely ignored market.

Quinn, Liam. Web Design Group, The (1997). Design>Accessibility>Web Design


Guidelines and Checklists

Provides usability guidelines and quick fix checklists for designing usable Web sites.

Usability.gov. Resources>Usability>Accessibility


Guidelines for Accessible Web Site: Technology and Users   (PDF)

Accessible design goes beyond accommodating the mentally or physically impaired. With new technologies and greater global access, accessible design now includes technological as well as user considerations.

Ward, Michele, Philip Rubens and Sherry Southard. STC Proceedings (2000). Presentations>Accessibility>Web Design


Guidelines for Writing Accessible Online Help

This article describes how to write effective on-line help for blind and low vision users of text based readers. The authors draw on their collective experience in both using text (screen) readers like JAWS to access web applications as well as preparing accessibility help for web pages and applications. This article doesn't include specific information about building web interfaces or sites, use of controls for accessibility within web sites, Section 508 or WAI Standards and Guidelines, or specific information about hardware or software. We include JAWS instructions as an example because it is commonly used in the United States. Also, we don't include information about actual language used within an interface and how to write it to make the interface more accessible. We are only discussing how to write Help pertaining to the interface itself.

Reed, Will, Everyl Yankee and Wendi Fornoff. Usability Interface (2003). Design>Web Design>Accessibility>Visual


The Guild of Accessible Web Designers

The Guild of Accessible Web Designers (GAWDS) is a worldwide association of professional organisations, web designers and developers working together to promote the use and preservation of accessible design standards.

GAWDS. Organizations>Web Design>Accessibility



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