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.



Product Design Ideas Center

The Product Design Ideas Browser is a reference tool that focuses on design strategies used to address the Telecom Act Accessibility Guidelines. Select an item from the list of Accessibility Guidelines in the navigation pane to find ideas and strategies that will be helpful in the design of more accessible and usable products.

University of Wisconsin. Design>Usability>Accessibility


Quantum Leaps   (PDF)

The presenter describes a long series of technological assistive devices she has used to overcome a double disability--—blindness and deafness—--over the past 30 years in pursuing a highly successful career in technical communication. She also demonstrates the equipment and shows how it makes it possible for her to do her job.

Hogg, Maureen. STC Proceedings (2005). Articles>TC>Accessibility>Universal Usability


A Quick and Dirty Introduction to Accessibility

A presentation providing an overview of accessibility that discusses disabilities that affect use of the web, devices and technologies used by disabled users.

Weakley, Russ. Max Design (2004). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility


Quick Tips to Make Accessible Web Sites

Ten tips for making Web sites accessible, available on a business-card sized reference card. Can be ordered from Web site.

W3C (2002). Design>Web Design>Accessibility


Read-Aloud PDFs

Are you aware that PDF documents are readable by your computer? You can listen to any PDF instead of reading it!

CyberText Consulting (2009). Articles>Accessibility>Visual>Adobe Acrobat


Reading Expository Text on a Computer Screen   (PDF)

Issues of legibility, restricted screen space, and the resulting effects on reader efficiency have hampered efforts to bring expository text to the computer screen. Previous research focused on character-based displays, a technology that is rapidly being supplanted by equipment capable of improved resolution and visual symbol generation. These issues, which affect both authors and readers, need to be investigated in light of current screen and user interface technology. It may well be that linear expository texts are easily adaptable to contemporary computer screens.

Ham, Eardley L. STC Proceedings (1994). Design>Document Design>Accessibility


Redesigning the AccessAbility SIG Web Site for Accessibility   (PDF)

Assuring the accessibility of a Web site is an ongoing process. Hear how the Web team for the AccessAbility SIG redesigned the SIG's Web site to incorporate more accessible features and how they stay on the accessibility road.

Lockley, Cynthia A. and Ann Leslie Reed. STC Proceedings (2004). Design>Web Design>Accessibility>STC


Reframing Accessibility for the Web

If you’ve been treating “people with disabilities” as an edge case for your websites, consider this a reckoning. Web accessibility means that everyone can use the web. The job of a web designer isn’t to question the configurations, devices, and tools that users bring to the table; it’s to rise to the challenge of making a site work for anyone who wishes to use it. Anne Gibson makes the case for site testing, inclusivity, and a better way of thinking about people online.

Gibson, Anne. List Apart, A (2015). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility


Refreshable Braille and the Web

Many people have not had the opportunity to see someone use a refreshable Braille device to access the web. I recently videoed Bruce Maguire describing how he uses the Internet with a refreshable Braille display. He also demonstrates finding a book on the Amazon site. Transcript of the video is at the end of this document.

Hudson, Roger. DingoAccess (2009). Articles>Accessibility>User Interface>Podcasts


Relatively PC and Reliable Confusion

The videos have been collected by the Inclusive Digital Economy Network. They present many of the challenges that older users often face when interacting with new technologies. The purpose of these videos is to highlight the issues in an insightful and thought-provoking way.

Inclusive Digital Economy Network (2009). Resources>Accessibility>Video>Elderly


Replacing NOSCRIPT with Accessible, Unobtrusive DOM/JavaScript

Modern user agents with JavaScript enabled will hide content contained within NOSCRIPT, and reveal it when JavaScript is disabled. User agents that do not support JavaScript will display the content within it. User agents with partial/antiquated JavaScript capabilities however interpret the element correctly and do not show the content, but when JavaScript is disabled also do not show the content - it never gets seen. This has an impact on the accessibility of the content. If your writing is targeted at modern, standards-based, compliant, and fully capable JavaScript user agents, employing the NOSCRIPT element is no problem. If the user agents among your audience are unpredictable, however, replacing the NOSCRIPT element with another mechanism becomes significant. This article looks at one such solution.

Palinkas, Frank M. Opera (2008). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>JavaScript


A Report from the STC Special Needs Committee: The Nature of Deafness   (PDF)

Deaf persons are not a monolithic group. Persons born deaf or who become deaf before learning the language of their environment (prelingual deafness) have a significant educational challenge as well as a communication challenge. Other deaf persons have a communication challenge. Deaf persons may be divided into five categories. For the purposes of this paper the categories are prelingual deafness, prelingual hard-of-hearing, postlingual deafness, postlingual hard-of-hearing, and presbyacusis. (oldage deafness) Each of these categories are discussed in detail including the characteristics of persons within the categories, and the nature of the problems they encounter.

Malcolm, Andrew. STC Proceedings (2001). Design>Accessibility>TC>Audio


Requiring the alt Attribute in HTML5

I'm putting together a list of pros and cons about making the alt attribute required in HTML 5. The following is a list of reasons for and against making the alt attribute required.

Lemon, Gez. Juicy Studio (2009). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>HTML5


Research-Based Web Guidelines: Accessibility

Ensure that text and graphics are understandable when viewed without color. If designers depend on color to convey information, colorblind users and users with devices that have noncolor or nonvisual displays cannot receive the information. When foreground and background colors are close to the same hue, they may provide insufficient contrast on monochrome displays and for people with certain types of color deficits.

Usability.gov. Design>Web Design>Accessibility


Responsive—and Responsible—Web Site Design for Disabled Users   (PDF)

Urges professors of technical communication to teach their students how to design Web sites that accommodate disabled users.

Hawkes, Lory. Intercom (2004). Design>Web Design>Accessibility>Education


Review: A Review of Free, Online Accessibility Tools

This article reviews eight, free, online web accessibility tools and examines the general characteristics of accessibility tools. The review provides a comparison between tools, and offers suggestions as to which tool would be appropriate for each of the following audiences: web designers, web developers and web evaluators.

Blair, Peter. WebAIM (2004). Articles>Reviews>Accessibility>Software


RNIB's Campaign for Good Web Design

There are two million people with sight problems in the UK - can they use your website?

RNIB (2003). Organizations>Accessibility>Web Design


The Rules of Unobtrusive JavaScript

One of the most important things to keep in mind when writing JavaScript for the Web is to make it unobtrusive, since You cannot rely on JavaScript being available.Sadly, there are many developers who do not seem to spend any energy at all on considering how to do that. Instead they choose to blindly forge ahead and assume that everybody who comes visiting will have full support for JavaScript and use a mouse.

Johansson, Roger. 456 Berea Street (2007). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>JavaScript


Safari Gets Support for ARIA

WebKit, the open source application framework behind Safari and other browsers, announced that they have started to add support for WAI-ARIA on the Gnome mailing list yesterday. They have added global support for the tabindex attribute, and have added support for basic ARIA roles. This is great news, as all four of the major browsers, Firefox, Opera, IE8, and Safari now have support for WAI-ARIA to some extent.

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


Safe Web Colours For Colour-Deficient Vision

Colour is increasingly used these days to help convey information. When one in twelve men have some measurable degree of colour vision deficiency, the use of certain colours in certain ways can cause difficulty when navigating web pages or software, and even total illegibility in some cases. The key issue is to know when you are using colours which some people will not be able to differentiate - because that (for them) removes the benefit of using colour for visual cues. Colour scientists have long known which colours are confused by colour blind people, but this tends to be expressed in a way difficult for designers to utilise.

BT Group (2004). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>Color


Screen Reader Simulation

This simulation will help you to understand what it is like for a person with visual impairments to access the Internet using a software program called a 'screen reader.'

WebAIM (2005). Design>Web Design>Accessibility


Screen Reader Survey Results

WebAIM conducted a survey of preferences of screen reader users. With over 1100 responses, this survey provides great insight into the demographics and preferences of screen reader users.

WebAIM (2009). Articles>Accessibility>Software>Surveys


Screen Readers and 'display:none'

When an element is hidden with display: none, the browser doesn't generate a box for the element; the element is not visible on the screen, and the layout of the page isn't effected by the element. As screen readers are supposed to read the screen, it makes sense that they do not announce content that is hidden with display: none.

Lemon, Gez. Juicy Studio (2007). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>CSS


Screen Readers Sometimes Ignore display:none

Using display:none does not always hide content from screen readers like JAWS and Window-Eyes, but there is a workaround.

Johansson, Roger. 456 Berea Street (2008). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>CSS


Screen-Reader Usability at a Standards-Compliant E-Commerce Site

An E-commerce site was redesigned with Web standards in mind. The revised site used semantic HTML markup that usually passes validation tests and also incorporated many common accessibility features. A study was carried out with screen-reader users to determine how well compliance with Web standards and accessibility guidelines translated into actual usability and accessibility.

Clark, Joe. JoeClark.org (2005). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>E Commerce



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