Fix the Web

Harnessing the power of networks to make the web accessible for everyone.

Archive for the ‘e-Accessibility’ Category

Piecing our jigsaw together

Posted by gailbradbrook on June 14, 2010

We had a conference call for the Fix the Web to review the mapping paper (on the home page to the left) and consider if it offers a way forwards for e-accessibility.

We discussed the following (and if I missed anything contributors or those who couldn’t be there feel free to add by commenting on this post):

-the scale of the issues we are dealing with- in principle the method proposed could deal with them all, we would just need to accept some are “slower burn” than others. Web development tools will be an important category to tackle. Overtime you have the data which could underpin legal approaches.

-volunteers would need to be pretty skilled in dealing with some issues- after a while we would ensure web owners are signposted to more expert sources of help (and anticipate paying for that) and also volunteers could be supported by GAWDS members- there would be a business case for GAWDS folks in doing that (see weblinks / blogroll to left for GAWDS)

-for some users the issues may be related to their own knowledge of the software (eg Jaws) that they are using.

-twitter is a resource for accessing owners eg if we wonder “who is in charge of facebook?”)

-there will be new pressures relating to Open Government and Big Society.

-the new paper clarifies that this is an activist issue- rewired state (who sponsor hack days) might be a good model

-for BT there is a business case for involvement- for both customers and staff

-from a fixing perspective a browser extension might be the best way forwards, like bookmarklett

-in the meantime, understanding the appetite for change, we should develop a twitter based campaign and hash tag (#fixtheweb) and can use twitter mining tools. Could use paralympics as a focus.

-a meeting required to action plan establishing a campaign

Peter Abrahams sent the following in follow up:

The idea of browser extensions seems a good way forward and I did a little bit of digging and in Firefox there is a function in Help called ‘Report a broken website’ and it includes an option on accessibility see http://support.mozilla.com/en-US/kb/New+Accessibility+features+in+Firefox+3#_quot_Report_a_broken_website_quot_tool_now_has_an_Accessibility_option .

What it does not explain is what happens to the report so I have put in a support question  see http://support.mozilla.com/en-US/forum/1/694766? .

I think we would have to extend this function so that it was specific for accessibility, included the email address of the user and maybe had some basic tick boxes to define the type of problem. But in principle it shows that reports could be generated within a minute.

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e-Accessibility figures and stats

Posted by gailbradbrook on May 18, 2010

The Employers Forum on Disability have set up the Business Task force on Accessible Technology. (Good for them!) I shall be asking if members of the team have techies they want to put forwards for Fix the Web.

Some useful collated stats from their information:
>>
Despite the rapid advancements in technology, it remains unnecessarily difficult for employers to recruit and retain disabled people and do business with disabled customers.
• Between 15-18% of the worlds population has a disability.
• There are 10 million disabled people in the UK, with 6.9 million of working age –19 % of the working population.
• One third of 50-64 year olds are disabled; 70% of disabled people become disabled during their working lives.
• Disabled people have an estimated spending power of £80bn pa in UK alone.
• 14% of those working in small to medium sized UK companies have a disability.
A compelling business case
• Legal & General’s new accessible website increased online sales by 90%; saved £200k pa on site maintenance; and delivered 100% ROI in one year.
• Accessible web pages are up to 75% smaller than non-accessible pages, giving huge bandwidth savings and reducing infrastructure demands.
• Barrier free online recruitment opens the doors to the talent of an additional 1.3 million applicants in the UK alone.(McKinseys)
• 83% of disabled people ‘walk away’ from purchases because they feel unwelcome or the product or service offering is inaccessible. (EFD survey)
>>

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Blogging against Disablism – the meaning of silence

Posted by gailbradbrook on April 30, 2010

Blogging Against Disablism DayBlogging Against Disablism logo in colour, stick men in lots of colour plus one wheelchair

Kevin Carey (Chair, RNIB, Chair, humanity, Head eInclusion Consultancy, ATcare) gave a fantastic presentation this week at the first BIS hosted e-Accessibility Forum. It was a clear and succinct overview of how to ensure disabled people can be part of Digital Britain. It focused on market forces and legal aspects and had a focused approach to future proofing standards. It seemed to me the work of a genius, a person who surpasses probably everyone in the UK, if not Europe, in his depth and breadth of subject knowledge. (Please email me if you want a copy of the documents)

Apart from a few questions and comments on details I would say it was largely met by silence by those hosting the meeting. There was no response to say “we take what you say very seriously and here is how we are embedding it into our thinking”. It felt like box ticking (yes we “listened” to the blind guy who is an expert, wasn’t it a nice “thought provoking” piece, now let’s move on to tinkering at the edges of this agenda). I made an impassioned plea to build our action planning with Kevin’s thinking at the heart of it – more silence. These are civil servants with a job to do. I’ve been around that before, the job is to not do, except what is already happening, which is failing. And of course they are good people. Tired and pissed off though he must be, Kevin has this paper higher up the food chain and he is making progress (power to your elbow!).

Silence is one malevolent element of oppressive behavior. It is insidious and murderous. To an able bodied person, our silence can feel numb, meaning well, being polite. I apologize. I apologize for when I do this. It must be the creeping behavior that fills all the gaps around the blatant stuff, making one big package that could drive a person nuts.

When, as an able bodied person, you can meet your silence and be aware of it, you find that it contains deep, deep separation which is heart breaking. It is the removal of the core of our humanity. Its making us ill, its making sicken for that something in our lives which is crushing in its absence. How can we talk about things not being “possible” or “affordable” when they are everything that we need, when it is about meeting our hearts longing?

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Working together for Inclusion

Posted by gailbradbrook on March 10, 2010

A disabled=I’m aware my last post- suggesting that some sites might be acceptably accessible, could be interpreted as another effort to get disabled people to put up with crap.

It was about not waiting to have accessibility “bestowed on us” by some higher authority with a fat cheque book and power.

Community and relationships and dialogue are not “clean” processes but when coming from a human place they will find their own way. The things that matter should get sorted. I don’t want us all to feel the e-access is something too big for us, something that’s just needs money. That seems to buy into all the separation and fear.

A big influence in my life has been Micheline Mason (www.michelinemason.com) campaigner for inclusion who described the efforts to fix the world to date, as like a big jigsaw puzzle being pieced together. We couldn’t get it finished because we missed out a key piece; we needed to start again- with inclusion as the central part.

“Inclusion is not an easy option. It is difficult because it requires people to examine their deepest held prejudices and fears; it asks people to learn new skills; it means people have to think creatively and design individual solutions for unique people; it means doing things differently and risking failure.”

And from her Poem “Beware the Baubles”

Put away your cheque books
Bring us in close to the beating pulse
Of shared messy, risky, noisy days
Where we all have complex needs
We will learn then all that matters
And so will you.

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Origins

Posted by gailbradbrook on March 10, 2010

Time map since the big bangLast year I worked with the e-inclusion team at the EC and we discussed potential strategies going forward. It bothered me how little progress had been made on a “Riga target” that 100% of  EC public sector websites should be e-accessible (at last measure it was 5%).

However I also wondered, as a currently able bodied person, what the access issues really feel like to a user who is ill, injured or disabled. There are those days when I feel like throwing my device out of the window (the i-phone app period tracker is worth thinking about guys, if you want to know if its really the technology – but I digress!). My experience of the internet and ICT is that its clunky, buggy, annoying and needs a good fix!

However, there is a certain amount of frustration I can put up with (generally!). I doubt its ever going to be perfect.

And then I’ve encountered, this may be a little controversial, a certain sense of elite around being an “accessible” website (don’t get me wrong, its great to encourage and reward best practice). But as a disabled user is it so impressive if a site is all singing and dancing but boring as hell?

My first wonder then, is what might be “acceptably” accessible and could de.li.cious be used for tagging reasonable sites  (so for example a Man City fan (now there’s an impairment!) could tag the best of the bunch in fanzine sites).

There’s a few issues in that idea, but discussing it more widely uncovered tools like Web Visum and the idea of fixing en masse came into view. I wondered if the fixing needed to be done by the user facing problems, and indeed if it always could be. I have helped get http://www.IT4communities.org.uk off the ground, which now has over 6000 (UK) volunteers, so I know there is a good techy energy out there to be tapped into. Scripting Enabled events being another example.

We just have some stuff to figure out, what’s important, what technically possible, how to best present a process on a website and how to drive traffic there. We just need to get together and figure it out.

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Who is responsible for what?!

Posted by gailbradbrook on March 9, 2010

Confused people around a computerI’m in the middle of frustration, with that powerless feeling of waiting and hoping for help (a familiar old feeling- I did some Fortran programming about 15 years ago and wasn’t very good!)

I’m trying to install a “theme” (background for this blog) which is accessible and came across : green-beast.com/beastblog “If you’re looking for a powerful, dynamic WordPress blog theme that’s accessible, usable, solidly-built to high standards, and attractive, you’ve come to the right place”.

Citizens Online think about the 13 million UK adults who aren’t online. They are generally older and / or people with low skills, low income, less educated. We are also thinking about offliners who are injured, ill or disabled and those who are online but struggling with e-accessibility.

If I can’t figure this out how can we expect these groups to join the growing numbers of social media users? If they do join, are they inevitably going to add to the inaccessible or less accessible content that is out there?

Beyond my immediate questions of why isn’t this installation process working on my computer… I’m wondering who is really responsible for e-accessibility in our networked world?

There are the standards agreed at international level, there are the national laws like DDA in the UK, there is pressure on big companies, there is guidance for web developers and government and NGO’s trying to spread that.

A new contact asked me the following:

“Do you have a target in terms of ‘bare minimums’ and ‘acceptable levels’, maybe in a simple ‘easy’ guide for would-be web developers? I’d be interested in getting our group to help put this together”

thanks for the offer!

I think some of that exists but I wonder if a next good step is to define the list of Internet stakeholders and be clear about who is responsible for what.

So what should I, as a novice to social media know and undertake to do? My one (pathetic) piece of info here is to put at Alt tag on my photos. What else should I know? Should I have to go through a palaver to get an Accessible theme? Shouldn’t that be something WordPress have sorted?Confused people around a computer

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the chicken and the creme egg

Posted by gailbradbrook on March 8, 2010

Wrapper from a creme egg showing the chicksSo I want to start a process to think about how social media can help Fix the Web (e-accessibility for disabled people). I’ve been chatting on email to various contacts but given this is a social media focussed project it made sense to think about communicating that way. Especially since at some point, there should be a website to promote through the networked world…

David Cushman (and his lovely family) came to visit this weekend, he is a Trustee of Citizens Online and an expert in Social Media. So we had a good natter and decided the best next step was to start a blog. I did used to have a website (anyone remember Geocities) but it was taken down even before they went under (it was about having a baby and my Demi Moore shots may have triggered alarms).

OK David I say, how do I make sure my blog is accessible to disabled people? We realise neither of us know and a cursory search doesn’t seem to help much. So I’m blogging about getting together an accessible social media website without knowing whether my site is or not. And if I don’t blog about it in real time I may lose some of the detail of the journey. I hope through blogging I’ll figure out having an accessible blog, but I don’t really know which should come first. I don’t know much about blogging or e-accessibility (I have other strengths to bring to this project!) and I think that lack of knowledge should have its benefits. I want to help create a solution that works for the average user…

The result of David’s tweeting to find out more:

“WordPress has more accessibility plugins than you can shake a stick at”

Should I need to stick in plugins? Shouldn’t this be built in? (I’m not 100% sure of what a plugin is btw)

“Wordpress is prob best. But the issue is more with the HTML and various widgets and applications than the blog platform itself”

So I might add in stuff that I think is cool and as a result be excluding people…ooohh…

AbilityNet (the national charity focused on adapting ICT for disability, health etc) says it has these accessibility features:

· a skip to content link to help screen reader and keyboard users access content quickly

· a search facility and sitemap

· alternative stylesheets (or viewing themes), including a linearised version with large text and a version designed to assist reading for visitors with dyslexia

· resizable text

· a flexible page layout (the centre column resizes with the width of your browser window)

I’m having a girlie time flicking through the themes you can have for your blog, but wondering which ones have any accessibility features built in- this doesn’t seem to be something you can filter for. I couldn’t find accessibility information from the general introductory stuff for WordPress, David got some info via a tweet:

“Here’s a link re wordpress and accessibility: http://codex.wordpress.org/Accessibility

This page starts with the inviting sentence: “Accessibility is for everyone, even WordPress users. But what is it?”

But it soon gets all techy on me:

“WordPress works right out of the box to help you keep your site accessible. Unfortunately, not all WordPress Theme authors take the time and patience to maintain those accessibility standards. Here is an example of using the title in a link in the index.php and the WordPress Loop:


permalink() ?>" rel="bookmark"

title="Permanent Link to php the_title(); ?>">

Let’s look at this. There is a link inside of the h2 tag for the title of the post. Inside of the link is a call to the permalink, the address of the post. It is followed by a rel which attaches a relationship to the link as a bookmark. This is followed by the title. In this case, it says “Permanent Link to” and then the title of the post, which is automatically generated by the the_title() template tag. The title tag is then used again as the name of the link.”

I’m on the second creme egg and feeling quite lost. I think more research is needed. I’m looking at this blog post and thinking christ the text is small, what if someone needs it bigger? This may be a chicken that gets rehatched soon….

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