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H810: Week 15: Activity 31.1: What are the accessibility issues?

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Web 2.0 & Accessibility for Disabled Users (Moonan, 2007)

This is a summary of issues as they were in 2007.

  • Inaccessible login boxes or security tests with no alternatives such as audio.
  • Inaccessible WYSIWYG editors that are not compatible with assistive technologies or only work with a mouse or pointing device instead of just the keyboard which makes it impossible for some users to create or edit text
  • Inaccessible interfaces which are dependent on drag and drop (interaction with a mouse or pointing device) with no alternative keyboard option.
  • Screen reader users are not alerted when content has changed dynamically without the page refreshing (specifically Ajax)
  • Inaccessible content users have created, such as:
    • Content is created without semantic code - which gives non visual information about the content, which is especially useful for screen reader users
    • Images are included without alt text
    • Styles and designs are selected which are difficult or impossible to read
    • Rich media is included without captions or alternatives
  • Inaccessible controls on audio or video players that are not compatible with assistive technologies or are reliant on using a mouse or pointing device
  • Users not being alerted to accessibility issues when inputting content

I did not understand all the technical information about Ajax but it did make me very aware that we need to include messages at the top of the page to identify the fact we are using JavaScript and that the page updates dynamically. I have seen this much more frequently on websites lately so I am hoping that the situation has improved since 2007.

Social networking sites lock out disabled users (AbilityNet, 2008)

This is a review of the current state, which highlights the lack of progress in making Web 2.0 accessible.

Surprised by this as my friends who are blind all use Facebook. Some prefer to use the mobile version as it cuts out some of the games etc that are too visual but others use the full site. I think that the move to mobile technologies has really given the accessibility movement a big shove forwards!!!

I found the accessibility page in the help centre was interesting reading as they do seem to be taking the issues seriously and welcoming comments. They also recognise that audio captcha may be a problem and offer individual help.

Blinding Technology of Online Learning (Kolowich, 2010)

"Advocacy groups do not believe online classrooms should deploy such materials [dynamic content] until they can be made accessible to blind students."

I don't agree. I feel that an alternative should be offered such as the 'HTML only' or 'No Javascript' versions offered by Facebook.

"It should also be noted that less than a third of Blackboard clients have upgraded to the more accessible version,"

This is a problem I have discovered at both universities where I work. Students using screen readers have a real problem accessing the older versions of Blackboard and WebCT and often need to book and pay for a support worker to sit next to them to read the page to them.

"Online education keep innovating, push forward and assistive technology keep up!" Comment posted by Kevin Chao at Bossier Parish Community College on August 23, 2010 at 2:15pm EDT (uses JAWS)


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You may be interested in a couple of web ARIA articles with regards to this.


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Thank you - really useful! I was struggling with some of the ideas and this has clarified the issues. I can see why there are still problems with WAI-ARIA now.