Accessibility

User account security measures offer annoying barriers without a reasonable payoff

Random internet browsing brought me to a choice user response to "internet security measures":

Like, I know they are there for good reason, but so many web sites require so many different variations of passwords, I just can't keep up with them all. My bank for example...It's one of those "password must contain atleas 8 characters, upper and lowercase and atleast one number". Okay, I did that, I've managed to remember it...but then, I have to have 8 different security questions. It doesn't always promt me with one, but about every 5th time I log into the site they throw me one of the questions. I can't keep up with all the answers. There are multiple answers to most of the questions. I don't have a fave band, I have several. I don't have a fave candy, or movie or any of that other crap.... So, if I answer wrong 3 times, they disable my account and make me re-register it.....*grumble*

Demographics: female in her 20s on a social networking site (LiveJournal) with novice to intermediate internet savvy (i.e. email, web, url copying, picture/video uploads, IM, etc.)

I think the most interesting thing here is that a lot of internet security measures put up lots of barriers to entry but don't offer a comparable value to the usere either in terms of real security, or in perceived security.

An interview with Joe Clark

An Interview with Joe Clark is a very good read for anyone who is interested in Accessibility. The interview focuses on the current state of accessibility in the US, Canada and around the world. He makes some very compelling points and discusses issues that everyone working on the Web should be interested in. If you haven't had a chance to pick up a copy of Building Accessible Websites I would highly recommend it.

From Digital Web.

W3C release WCAG 2.0 working draft

The W3C has released a draft for the new Web Content Accessibility Guidlines (WGAC) 2.0. Since the WCAG 1.0 were released in May '99 this is a welcome update, and gives a flavour of the changes in how content is used on the web. Accessibilty is also being simplified to make it easier for content producers to make their content accessible. A, Double A, and Triple A are gone to be replaced by CORE and EXTENDED checkpoints.

This document is well worth a read and although not yet a reccomendation will give so idea of how best to start planning WGAC 2.0 compliance.

Managing Section 508 testing

William T. Kelly on Builder.com offers tips for managing Section 508 testing.

Project managers, developers, and quality assurance staff who embark on testing the first Section 508-compliant Web development project are often breaking new ground. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998 mandates that U.S. government agencies provide people with disabilities access to electronic and information technology. These tips will help you find the right testing methodology to ensure that your Web development project is Section 508 compliant and also meets your client requirements.

New WAI reccomendation

The W3C have made the user agents accesability guidelines into a reccomendation. What this means in practice is that most browsers and other programs designed to access web content will be required to meet the reccomendations in order to conform with local accesability laws. This will almost certainly apply in the EU and US. Hopefully this will force more use of WAI standards, allowing content providers to use newer standards with confidence.

Accessible text on the web

The MCU: Understanding web typography - an introduction - In this article I attempt to cut a swathe through the complexities of Web typography; explain the possible pitfalls; and provide some guidelines for creating accessible and easy to read web pages.

Thanks, Library TechLog (Matthew Eberle)

Court: Disability law doesn't apply to Web

Anitra Pavka pointed to the follow up article in ComputerWorld on the SouthWest Airlines web site accessiblity case. This is the case that tries to argue that web sites should fall under the aegis of ADA laws. Courts rejected the suit and the plaintiffs plan to appeal. The usual quotes from PR spinners and experts are interesting.

The statement below is most likely true, companies have not focussed on accesiblity. Planning for accessiblity is just cost-effective.

    [B]uilding in accessibility during a Web site's design costs only a quarter of the amount needed to retrofit a site later, said Jennifer Vollmer, a research analyst at Meta Group Inc. Accessibility ... has not just been a priority for companies."
Anitra weighs in on Gerry Santoro's contention that,

    "In general, programmers write for themselves" and are interested in only designing a system that works. "The same is true of Web designers; they tend to design for themselves".
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0

The W3C has just released draft version 2.0 of their Content Accessibility Guidelines.

Thanks, Column Two: KM/CM blog

Judge: Disabilities Act doesn't cover Web

Mark , Christina and Adam are discussing this troubling US court ruling affecting accessibility of web sites. This article in news.com covers the ruling.

    A federal judge ruled Friday that Southwest Airlines does not have to revamp its Web site to make it more accessible to the blind.

    In the first case of its kind, U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz said the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies only to physical spaces, such as restaurants and movie theaters, and not to the Internet.

Apparently the ADA laws only apply to meatspace. It's a shame, because the Internet should make mobility more possible for people with disabilities, but far too often the barriers of legacy web design and poorly executed information architectures keep people from using the web efficiently. You'd think a large airline would want to make it easier for this population to buy tickets online.

    Gumson, who said he had a screen reader with a voice synthesizer on his computer, asked the judge to order Southwest to provide text that could serve as an alternative to the graphics on its site and to redesign the site's navigation bar to make it easier for him to understand.
Sounds like the fixes could be minor and relatively inexpensive. Better labelling and standards compliant markup might help in this instance. More companies should just work with users on these fixable problems. In the end the benefit will outweigh the cost of bad publicity. All it really takes is getting the right people in the discussion. No doubt lawyers and PR people were the main players, but what do they know about accessible design?

Alertbox: Making Flash Usable for Users With Disabilities

NN/G report summary on making Flash usable with MX.

    Flash designs are easier for users with disabilities to use when designers combine visual and textual presentations, minimize incessant movement, decrease spacing between related objects, and simplify features.
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