Archive for the ‘websites’ Category

want to use accessible captcha? here’s one way

July 20, 2007

Formsheild 2.0 makes it easy
version 2 of formshield, which makes it easy to create captchas for your.net 2.0 based site includes the option to automaticly generate audio captchas. If you must use them then use a tool like this.

accessibility and internationalisation are related

July 6, 2007

Yesterday was my birthday and as well as a bottle of my current favourite tipple, the sublime Duncan TaylorsAult Reekie I was lucky enough to get some vouchers for Cheese!!! from local cheese shop Paxton and Whitfield.
Fantastic, as soon as we’ve polished off the Cheeses we picked up at The Cheese Shop, 11 Butchers row in Barnstaple I’ll be round there to restock.

however when I visited the Paxton and Whitfield Website I hit a problem. namely the lang=de tag which appears through out their site. All the text on the site is in English but because of that line my screenreader (Jaws as it happens) believes it to be in German and consequently switches to its german accent making it impossible to read the pages.

the good news for Cheese a-holic Jaws users is that you can get round the problem by telling Jaws to ignore languages specified in Websites but this is one more example of the unintended consequences of sloppy coding.

who’d of thought that internationalisation was as much of an accessibility issue as alt tags, meaningful link text etc.

how’s that for service!?

July 4, 2007

A couple of weeks ago I bookmarked Revish as an interesting new information rich and user friendly book review site. Amazon et al are fine in their own way but so massive and inpersonal that it’s hard to find reliable and/or meaningful recommendations especially if you fancy something completely different rather than just another title by the same author as you bought last time. However, I had a bit of an accessibility issue. In the lists of titles reviewed each entry had a thumnail image of the book in question, a rating and the name of the reviewer. Because of the lack of an alt tag on the thumnails I couldn’t actually identify the title under review without clicking on each in turn. Very labour intensive.

Like a good little accessibility evangelist I promptly dispatched an email explaining the issue and with in ten minutes had a reply telling me the problem was resolved. Not just that it would be resolved, but that it was sorted, that all thumbnails now have their alt tags in place so I can differentiate between titles in the review lists.

You can’t beat that for a quick service.

Actually as the man behind Revish is no less than Mr Dan Champion this will be no surprise to anyone who knows Dans reputation but quality deserves recognition so:

Thanks Dan, good site, excellent customer service.

that’s just what you want to see from a developer, not that everything is perfect first time out, but that they can adapt to variations in a hurry and maintain the quality.

WCAG Samurai released

June 8, 2007

so, the WCAG Samurai is out. Put together by an unknown number of annonymous persons championed by (and who knows, maybe soully) Joe Clark the Samurai is an errata to the Web content accessibility guidelines version 1 bringing them up to date and making them fit for purpose in 2007. the Samurai is not a WCAG version 1.5 but rather a series of corrections and modifications which the author(s) believe will help iron out accessibility issues which continue to be propigated even with implementation of version 1.0. Both independant peer reviews, undertaken by John Sampson-Wild and Alastair Campbell suggest that this is likely to muddy the waters further and that the Samurai might be easier to interpret and implement if it were in the form of a WCAG update rather than list of corrections and modifications and I am enclined to agree. While the current Errata is a valuable point of reference implementation is complex and would be simplified by a WCAG Samurai content accessibility guideline.

More of an issue though is a direct comparison with the re worked WCAG 2.0 working draft. Working as I do in the public sector and setting benchmarks for commercial enterties to work to I have to ask myself which will our stakeholders

  1. find most palatable,
  2. be able to work with,
  3. and which will benefit end users more – if either.

What’s more, can it ever be acceptible for government money to be spent on holding industry accountable to a standard to which we nor they have no opportunity to input, and for which there is in turn no accountability.

difficult questions indeed.

Hotels.com sued over accessibility

May 24, 2007

IJust picked this up on Outlaw.com Interestingly the online travel company which aledgedly treats accessible hotel rooms as an optional extra because it won’t guarantee reservations for accessible rooms via its Website isn’t being challenged under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because of previous rulings under that legislation which have brought in to questions its applicability to the Web. Very worrying.

It's an interesting area, companies who make 'special provision' but then offer this on less favourable terms, and one which I'd like to see tested. A situation which I am currently experiencing myself is raising just this question. Vodafone.co.uk offer visually impaired clients a mobile screenreader free of charge on compatible phones. However in order to get the package you can only buy your contract in store, not via there Website from where discount call plans are available. In short if I want the software I must forgo the three months half price line rental and 10% discount for the duration of the contract. Less favourable terms? I think so. One possible solution which has been put on the table is that I buy my package on the Website, take the handset in to the store who will then send it off for the software to be installed, have it returned to the store from where I can collect it one week later. This seems a little long winded given that I can easily download and install the software myself, all I would require from Voda is the licence code.

So the questions I am asking myself,

"Is this a reasonable adjustment?".

and if not

Given that I am saving the £150 it would cost me to buy the software myself (which is more than I stand to lose by purchasing from the highstreet rather than online) would persuing the matter in courts (if a satisfactory solution were not found) be looking a gift horse in the mouth.

or

actually is the bigger picture what counts?

you can't treat someone less favourably on the grounds of disability

Even if you are, offering, a bespoke service.

Google enhances(?) accessibility.

November 29, 2006

Take a look at search results on Google. Notice that as of today 15/11/2006, the link text of each result is now marked up as a header. Is this an advance in accessibility? Well certainly for users of some screenreaders it does mean that it is much faster to jump from result to result, but is improving the experience of users of a particular product (or products) really in the spirit of improved accessibility? or just a media friendly cheat. Headers are meant for structural mark-up, which I suggest this is not. On the face of it this may sound like a weak arguement, afterall for years we (the campainers) have been advocating the use of work arounds to improve the user experience. What concerns me is that in the absence of conformant assistive tech products individual designers are being forced to create their own solutions which are dependant on the features of products which they don’t as a rule know a great deal about, or where what they do know is based on a very narrow selection of the most market dominant products. What concerns me is where will it all end? because we the assistive tech user can be certain who will be the ones to lose out a couple of years down the line when we start to see solutions that conflict with each other or with our technology if we aren’t using the product which the designer had in mind when they did thedevelopment. What are Standards and guidance for if not to give us semantic solutions.

Starting a Blogg, the Tears and the cheers.

November 15, 2006

As you might imagine, or as you possibly discovered for yourself, deciding to “do” a Blogg is the easy part (no surprise). I expect that always having something interesting to say will be a bit more tricky, but I wasn’t quite prepared for was the complexity of actually signing up for and setting up the whole shabang. Or at least thats how it felt whenbattling with my screenreader of choice and Blogger.com – maybe they’re just having a bad day which would account for all the “page not found” errors after completing registration forms and slowness of Emails, but the audible capchure process was most unpleasant too. So I hit the search engines to look for an alternative and ended up here at WordPress. A completely different story. I’ve signed-up, fiddled around with settings and designs (all bee it that there’s more to do still obviously), and am already on my second post all within considerably less than half n hour. So the moral of the story, if you want an accessible Blogg – use WordPress not Blogger.

jumping on the band wagon.

November 15, 2006

So I’ve done it, I’m on the band wagon and have started this here Blogg. It’s so time consuming visiting all those other Websites, Discussion boards, and Bloggs out there to put people right that I’ve decided that the only thing to do is to simplify things and let you all come to me. So here it is, an insiders view on “accessibility” (whatever that is).