More on Accessibility

Accessible Web Form Creation
There are more than 50 million Americans with disabilities - 18% of our population. By the year 2030, 71.5 million Baby Boomers will be over the age of 65 and demanding products, services, and environments that address their age-related physical changes, be they visual, auditory, cognitive or motor skill-related. 

There are multiple coding requirements online web forms must incorporate to ensure they adequately allow ALL individuals equal access.  These techniques were “good practices” in the past but are no longer optional.

Having gone through some training on making an online form pass these requirements, Beth Watson will demonstrate:

Everyone is welcome to attend this UTHealth seminar which will be held February 1, 2011 in the School of Nursing building, room 390.

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UTHealth Web Authors:

Those of you who attended the 5-week course “Designing Accessible Web Forms” received a brief introduction to WAI-ARIA.  Others of you may have never heard this terminology.  Below is brief introduction into what its, what it does, and why it’s important. 

As website accessibility initiatives ramp up this year, web professionals across campus will be expected to ensure all public-facing content meets the State of Texas guidelines.  The University Web Communications team is always happy to consult on questions you might have in this area.  Feel free to contact us.

Introduction to WAI-ARIA: it’s accessibility, but not as we know Source: Media Access Australia

As the W3C makes its last call for input on the WAI-ARIA working draft, people often ask why WAI-ARIA was created, how it relates to WCAG 2.0 and why it’s so important. This post will look at the history of WAI-AIRA, and why it can make such a big difference to the accessibility of the Internet.
Why is WAI-ARIA so important?

When the W3C first created the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), its aim was to make sure that people with disabilities could access online content. This was achieved in 1999 with the creation of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 1.0), giving developers specific information on how to create HTML code in an accessible way.

Initially this worked well as in the 1990s a website was often viewed as something that was created once, put online and, aside from a few tweaks, generally left alone. Over time however, Internet users wanted more information and quickly.

As the public’s appetite for real-time information such as the latest stock prices or sports scores grew, developers and the W3C found new ways to produce content. Client-side technologies like JavaScript and Ajax allowed developers not just to display a web page, but control which parts of a page are viewed, how often information is refreshed and what type of content is delivered to the end user. In today’s Web, pure HTML only represents a small part of the end-user experience.

The problem for people with disabilities is that while these technologies are impressive in terms of speed and content, they’re not generally very accessible, especially for screen readers. The updated WCAG 2.0 released in 2008 assisted in providing general guidance on the issues, but unlike WCAG 1.0, the guidelines aimed to be more technology-neutral so they could apply to more situations.
As a result, the W3C created a guide specifically for Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) so that developers can make use of the latest cutting-edge web technologies and make sure that people using assistive technology products are able to access the content.

What makes WAI-ARIA so different? Source: Media Access Australia

Unlike traditional accessibility guidelines which focus on design principles, WAI-ARIA uses various commands and metadata to tell the assistive technology products what’s going on. For example, if an event happens on a web page such as an updated sports score, the assistive technology program being used to help a person with a disability will notice the change and provides the user with access to the new content.

WAI-ARIA is different in that it allows a partnership of sorts between the developer and the end user in delivering new information. In addition, WAI-ARIA doesn't have to help with dramatic changes: even just being able to expand a menu and seeing the new options can make a profound difference to accessibility.

In the next post I will go into more detail about the specifics, the promise and the pitfalls of WAI-ARIA as there’s a lot to cover on this topic. In the meantime, the W3C have produced a great WAI-ARIA Primer to assist developers in making a start.

TAC 206.70 is the State of Texas rule that governs us.  The State of Texas rule is pretty much the same as the US Government’s Section 508.  Some good references are for accessibility are:

Here are the detail for TAC 206:

(a) Effective September 1, 2006, unless an exception is approved by the president or chancellor of an institution of higher education or an exemption has been made for specific technologies pursuant to §213.37 of this title, all new or changed Web pages and Web content shall comply with the standards described in this subchapter. Each institution of higher education shall include in its accessibility policy the following standards/specifications:

  1. A text equivalent for every non-text element shall be provided (e.g., via "alt," "longdesc," or in element content).
  2. Upon receiving a request for accommodation of a Web cast of an open meeting (as defined in the Open Meetings Act, Chapter 551, Texas Government Code) or of training/informational video productions which support the institution of higher education's mission, each institution of higher education which receives such a request for accommodation shall provide an alternative form(s) of accommodation in accordance with §2054.456 and §2054.457, Texas Government Code. Refer to §206.1 of this chapter for definitions for Alternate Format and Alternate Methods.
  3. Web pages shall be designed so that all information conveyed with color is also available without color.
  4. Documents shall be organized so they are readable without requiring an associated style sheet.
  5. Redundant text links shall be provided for each active region of a server-side image map.
  6. Client-side image maps shall be provided instead of server-side image maps except where the regions cannot be defined with an available geometric shape.
  7. Row and column headers shall be identified for data tables.
  8. Markup shall be used to associate data cells and header cells for data tables that have two or more logical levels of row or column headers.
  9. Frames shall be titled with text that facilitates frame identification and navigation.
  10. Pages shall be designed to avoid causing the screen to flicker with a frequency greater than 2 Hz and lower than 55 Hz.
  11. An alternative version page, with equivalent information or functionality, shall be provided to make a Web site comply with the provisions of this section, when compliance cannot be accomplished in any other way. The content of the alternative page shall be updated whenever the primary page changes.
  12. 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.
  13. 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 the following:
    1. When software is designed to run on a system that has a keyboard, product functions shall be executable from a keyboard where the function itself or the result of performing a function can be discerned textually.
    2. Applications shall not disrupt or disable activated features of other products that are identified as accessibility features, where those features are developed and documented according to industry standards. Applications also shall not disrupt or disable activated features of any operating system that are identified as accessibility features where the application programming interface for those accessibility features has been documented by the manufacturer of the operating system and is available to the product developer.
    3. A well-defined on-screen indication of the current focus shall be provided that moves among interactive interface elements as the input focus changes. The focus shall be programmatically exposed so that assistive technology can track focus and focus changes.
    4. Sufficient information about a user interface element including the identity, operation and state of the element shall be available to assistive technology. When an image represents a program element, the information conveyed by the image must also be available in text.
    5. When bitmap images are used to identify controls, status indicators, or other programmatic elements, the meaning assigned to those images shall be consistent throughout an application's performance.
    6. Textual information shall be provided through operating system functions for displaying text. The minimum information that shall be made available is text content, text input caret location, and text attributes.
    7. Applications shall not override user selected contrast and color selections and other individual display attributes.
    8. When animation is displayed, the information shall be displayable in at least one non-animated presentation mode at the option of the user.
    9. Color coding shall not be used as the only means of conveying information, indicating an action, prompting a response, or distinguishing a visual element.
    10. When a product permits a user to adjust color and contrast settings, a variety of color selections capable of producing a range of contrast levels shall be provided.
    11. Software shall not use flashing or blinking text, objects, or other elements having a flash or blink frequency greater than 2 Hz and lower than 55 Hz.
    12. When electronic forms are used, 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.
  14. 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.
  15. A method shall be provided that permits users to skip repetitive navigation links.
  16. When a timed response is required, the user shall be alerted and given sufficient time to indicate more time is required.

(b) Effective September 1, 2006, unless an exception is approved by the president or chancellor of an institution of higher education or an exemption has been made for specific technologies pursuant to §213.37 of this title, all new Web page/site designs shall be tested by the institution of higher education using one or more §508 compliance tools in conjunction with manual procedures to validate compliance with this chapter. Institutions of higher education shall establish policies to monitor their Web site for compliance with this chapter. Additional information about testing tools and resources are available from the department's Web site.

(c) Each state Web site shall avoid vendor specific "non-standard" extensions and shall comply with applicable standards (e.g., IEFT (if using secure socket layer (SSL) connections), W3C (if using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and validated using the W3C CSS Validation Service), etc. For guidance regarding "non-standard" extensions, emerging technologies and applicable standards, state agencies shall refer to the department's guidelines.

(d) The policy should cover testing and validation of Web pages.

(e) Each state Web site should be designed with consideration for the types of Internet connections available to the citizens of Texas, and undergo accessibility and usability testing.

(f) The policy should cover the testing/validation tools and manual procedures used for validating compliance with Chapter 2054, Subchapter M, Texas Government Code.

Source Note: The provisions of this §206.70 adopted to be effective November 28, 2004, 29 TexReg 10712; amended to be effective April 24, 2006, 31 TexReg 3374; amended to be effective September 16, 2008, 33 TexReg 7737

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