GAAD Quiz Answers

Here are the answers and explanations to last week’s GAAD Accessibility quiz.

Q. Who benefits from accessible content?

A. Everyone

Yes, everyone benefits from accessible content, not just persons with disabilities.  Text with good color contrast, for instance, helps persons with and without visual impairments read content more clearly.  Alternative text for images creates more keywords for search engines to index, which drives more traffic to the website.  Captions for video presentations not only help persons who are deaf or have hearing impairments; they also help persons who don't speak English to learn the language.  Even keyboard accessible controls, which benefit persons with dexterity impairments, help people who can't find their mouse.

 

Q. How many people with disabilities are there in the U.S.?

A. 57 Million

Fifty-seven million people in the United States have disabilities.  That means one out of three Americans has some type of disability.  Specifically, over 6.6 million Americans have visual impairments, 10.5 million have hearing impairments, 14.3 million have cognitive impairments, and 15.2 million have dexterity impairments.   Globally, about 15% has some form of disability, the second largest minority group next to women. 

So people with disabilities definitely cannot be ignored, especially within the business realm.  According to WE Magazine, they spend $700 billion on technology.  That's why accessibility is so vital to both consumers and companies.

Q. Screen Reader was once a proprietary product of what company?

A. IBM

Today, "screen reader" is a generic term.  It applies to any application that can read the content on the screen.  In 1984, however, Screen Reader was a proprietary product for IBM.  In other words, IBM exclusively owned Screen Reader.  Jim Thatcher, then a mathematician  for the largest technology company in the world, who has now become one of the leading accessibility gurus, helped develop an "audio access system" for the IBM Personal Computer.  Thatcher, along with his mentor Dr. Jesse Wright, created the first screen reader for the Disk Operating System (DOS) called IBM Screen Reader.   It was derived from a talking terminal called SAID (Synthetic Audio Interface Driver).  The IBM Screen Reader was actual hardware that was included in the computer, not software that a user installed from a disk.

Later, he headed the development of the IBM Screen Reader/2, the first screen reader for a graphical interface on a computer.  Although IBM does not own the idea of a screen reader anymore, it has a talking browser called Home Page Reader, which is the company's most popular product for the blind.            

Q. When was the first release of JAWS?

A. 1989

Developed by Ted Henter, a former motorcycle racer who lost his eyesight in 1978 due to an auto accident, JAWS (Job Access With Speech) is the most popular screen reader among persons who are blind.  The first release of JAWS was in 1989 for the MS-DOS operating system, one of several screen readers that allowed blind people access to MS-DOS programs.  JAWS eventually became a Windows-based screen reader in 1995. 

Q. What are the principles of WCAG 2.0?

A. Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, Robust

The Worldwide Web Consortium Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0) are based on four principles that are termed perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust.  Perceivable pertains to users with hearing or vision impairments.  The Perceivable principle has success criteria to provide text equivalents for images, audio, multimedia presentations, and color-conveyed information.   In other words, content must be accessible to at least one of the senses.

Operable means users must be able to operate the interface. For example a person who has a dexterity impairment can operate the user interface without using a mouse.  The principle has success criteria to enable active elements to be keyboard accessible or accessible by other means, such as using a switch or Eye Gaze technology.  This principle also stipulates that timed response (e.g. purchasing tickets online within a time limit) must not prevent persons with any type of disabilities from performing transactions.  

Understandable implies that content must be clear, concise, and readable.  Success criteria for this principle include expanding abbreviations, explaining unusual words, and identifying the language of a webpage.  The Understandable principle also entails webpages having predictable navigation methods (e.g. navigation links in the same position on each page).  Furthermore, it calls for instructions and alerts to prevent users from making errors or to correct them.

Finally, Robust, which means the content must be able to be interpreted reliably and by a wide variety of user agents. It is important that the content be able to be interpreted by the assistive technologies used by people with disabilities and that as technologies evolve the content remains accessible.

 

 

References

Disability Statistics

World Health Organization World report on disability

A History of Accessibility at IBM

JAWS (screen reader)

WCAG 2.0

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