Week Seven July 16-22 (and 23-30)

1. Start page
2. Hands-on Exercise
3. Hands-on Exercise Report
4. Review Answers


Practice accessibilty policy

[NOTE: This "policy" is a class exercise, not an actual policy.]

This policy is for the web site. Citizens for Economic Opportunity is a coalition made up of unions, religious and neighbohood groups, and various progressive activists. The general goal is to get corporations in their area to be more responsive to community needs.

These folks believe in accessibility! I am not aware of any formal accessibility policy, however.

The web site is educational in nature and aimed at two audiences, existing members and potential new members or allies. It describes their legislative intiatives and political actions and from time to time suggests activities. Its staff is small, consisting of one full time, some voluvnteers, and "loaners" from member organizations as needed.

The ceo-ct.org web site is low-budget, designed and implemented, in consultation with volunteers, by staff -- for whom learning html was not a priority. The purpose of the policy is to ensure that the site can be made fairly accessible without putting a great deal of time into it.

In addition to making the site more accessible to people who use assistive or alternate technology, the policy guidelines may contribute to providing a consistent appearance to the site and make subsequent updates less demanding. Making this effort will also help ensure that the organization's own behavior is consistent with its goals, ie., that it considers needs of community members in what it does; this is exactly what it asks of coporations.

The policy

It is the goal of CEO that its web site should be accessible to all users and meet all contemporary accessibility standards.

In pursuit of this goal, the html and css should both validate. The site should:

The policy is to conform, to the greatest extent possible, to the W3C Web Content Accesiblity Guidelines Triple A accessibility.

As a practical matter, CEO webmasters should pass the test set forth in the Section 504 checklist, although presently it is not required to. This checklist is helpful in that it tells what to do and, by way of contrast, what NOT to do.

It is understood that, this being a very small organization, this is a goal, not a requirement.

Review questions

  1. Name five ways in which the Section 508 requirements are different from WCAG Single-A compliance.
  2. Do you think the HWG's web accessibility (which is basically "WCAG Single-A") is sufficient for the needs of an organization like the Guild? If not, how would you extend the policy?
  3. What are the consequences of not having an accessibility policy in place?

Review answers

  1. WCAG Single-A compliance shares many requirements with Section 504. Section 504 has in addition, has these components: [copied from http://www.access-board.gov/sec508/508standards.htm#PART%201194]
      (l) When pages utilize scripting languages to display content, or to create interface elements, the information provided by the script shall be identified with functional text that can be read by assistive technology. (m) When a web page requires that an applet, plug-in or other application be present on the client system to interpret page content, the page must provide a link to a plug-in or applet that complies with §1194.21(a) through (l). (n) When electronic forms are designed to be completed on-line, the form shall allow people using assistive technology to access the information, field elements, and functionality required for completion and submission of the form, including all directions and cues. (o) A method shall be provided that permits users to skip repetitive navigation links. (p) When a timed response is required, the user shall be alerted and given sufficient time to indicate more time is required.

  2. The HWG accessibility policy seems very good to me on the whole.

    One aspect that to me makes it less useful is that it ignores what appears to be actual HWG policy. For example, it urges the use of client-side rather than server-side image maps - but I couldn't find any image maps on the site. In fact, the only images I have found are the Guild logo and valid-code logos --and oh, yeah! the Guild tee shirts.

    Guild pages provide a nice examaple of how to create a navigation bar without images. If it is in fact a policy to use as few images as possible, the Policy should say so, as it does regarding the use of frames.

    There are a couple of additions that could be made:

    1. Call for a brief description of what's on the page before getting to any links and provide a "skip links" link at the first tab position.
    2. Call for some sort of testing, like the use of Bobby, or better yet review by people using assistive technology.

  3. Organizations should not try to wait and address access ad hoc, because leaving access questions to be addressed after someone has expressed a need for accommodation will be too late and require far more difficult changes.
    According to the April 2000 U.S. Attorney General report on the state of federal accessibility:
    Data provided by the agencies suggest that the majority of agencies that continue to handle IT accessibility issues exclusively on an "ad hoc" or "as needed" basis, instead of integrating accessibility into the development and procurement of their mainstream IT products. Many IT officials hold the mistaken belief that persons with disabilities can always be accommodated upon request by using widely available assistive technology devices (e.g., screen readers, screen enlargers, volume control apparatuses, pointing devices that serve as alternatives to a computer mouse, voice recognition software, etc.) in conjunction with mainstream technology applications. Indeed, the goal of section 508 is to ensure that the agency will always be able to provide reasonable accommodations. Without adequate planning, however, the possibility of providing an accommodation to person with a disability may be foreclosed…. Use of an "ad hoc" or "as needed" approach to IT accessibility will result in barriers for persons with disabilities. A much better approach is to integrate accessibility reviews into the earliest stages of design, development, and procurement of IT. Once an accessible IT architecture is established, then ­ and only then ­can persons with disabilities be successfully accommodated on an "as needed" basis.
    my source: , Cynthia Waddell and Mark Urban
    Waiting for someone to ask for access is equivalent to denying access to others who did not or could not ask. Access considerations should be built into the design and architecture of a web site.
[13] Excerpt from the April 2000 report of the U.S. Attorney General, “Information Technology and People with Disabilities: The Current State of Federal Accessibility,” Section II, General Findings and Recommendations, page 7, at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/508/report/content.htm.

Hands-on exercise (the assignment)

Write an accessibility policy

Another writing assignment!
This week you were asked to read over some web accessibility policies, including the U.S. government's Section 508 guidelines. There are more listed under "additional resources" as well. For this assignment, you are asked to write your own guidelines defining what needs to be done to make a web site accessible, in your opinion. Please read over the instructions below carefully, as there will be answers to some questions that may be forming in your mind right now.

First, describe the web site, including the following

Define what the policy consists of:

The policy should answer these questions:

How do you deal with legacy pages and sites? Are there deadlines, grandfather clauses, exceptions, or priorities for retrofitting?

What about editor programs, tools, or testing software? Do you want to mandate the use of Bobby, or anything else? Are there required editors, or any requirements related to the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines such as "web designers must use a Single-A ATAG compliant tool"? Remember, you're writing this (theoretical) policy so you can demand whatever you like.

Anything else you want to include in your policy is fine. Are there extensions beyond WCAG Single-A or Double-A that you think are "must-haves"? Or even things not covered by WCAG at all? Feel free to get creative.

Write up a policy which answers the questions above (but not strictly in a question-by-question format! make it look semi- authentic) and then post the URL or the essay here.

Legalese is not really necessary; feel free to write colloquially if you like, assuming your audience is fellow web developers.

Note: If you're putting it on a public web site and it is not really the policy of your site, be sure to label it with a disclaimer. I say this from experience; it's very possible that your page could end up being indexed by a search engine and mistaken for "the real thing" if you're not careful!

Also -- some of you may feel the desire to actually adopt the policy you write on your web sites, or encourage the policy-setters at your site to do so. While this is a great thing and likely would make your ol' teacher proud of you, I'm again stressing that it is not your assignment to change policy at your place of work, your personal site, or whatever, just to write whatever you feel is an appropriate policy based on what you've learned in this course so far. That said -- everyone be sure to enjoy this!

Copyright © 2001, Pamela Shorey