Web Design

WAI-ARIA provides semantics designed to allow an author to properly convey user interface behaviors and structural information to assistive technologies in document-level markup. WAI-ARIA 1.1 adds features to WAI-ARIA 1.0 to complete the HTML+ARIA accessibility model.

The new and updated working draft is open for review as they are looking for comments. WAI-ARIA 1.1 adds:

  • table roles and a model to distinguish tables from grids.
  • the “aria-roledescription” property to refine user understanding of roles.
  • changed applicability of “aria-readonly” and “aria-level”.
  • expanded explanation of “supported” vs. “required” states and properties.

Core Accessibility API Mappings (Core-AAM) and Accessible Name and Descriptions: Computation and API Mappings (AccName-AAM) provide support for the new WAI-ARIA 1.1 features as well as more complete accessibility API Mapping for other features. 

As we work our way into the new year, there are new issues every vertical must address. In 2015 many of these issues center around technology. Education is always at the forefront of new issues and ether reflects or predicts the concerns of the community at large. A January 15, 2015 article by Tanya Roscorla published on the Center for Digital Education website and titled, Top 6 Higher Ed Digital Policy Issues to Watch in 2015  demonstrates this listing the top policy issues as:

  1. Security threats
  2. State authorization for distance education
  3. Internet of Things management
  4. Competency-based education exploration
  5. Staffing shortage
  6. Electronic Accessibility for people with disabilities

Security has sat at the top of many lists for years as the protection of personally identifiable information is a paramount concern for everyone. Just as we clutch our wallets and purses on crowded city streets to keep our credit card numbers and other personal information safe, we demand that same information stay protected as we conduct business on the web.

The branches of the web grow and reach out of our computers into our everyday household items and cars. The internet of things is bringing inventory management into our refrigerators, allowing our phone to talk to our house and soon it may be driving our cars for us.

As we lock things down to protect our security and the web spreads into every aspect of our lives, number 6, the issue of access, becomes increasingly important. Convenience in everyday life needs to extend to everyone.  Digital education has put the classroom in the living room.  A convenience for anyone who is far away from the school or simply doesn’t have time for the commute, is even more necessary for a person with a disability who may have mobility issues or be blind. However, if the digital education platform is not accessible, what should be a convenience becomes a barrier for people with disabilities.

This, of course, extends to ecommerce and any other convenience on the web. Therefore, what is important for education in 2015 becomes important for business and institutions in general. When considering the issues it’s important to look at them together. If worked in silos, an issues like security can oppose accessibility. Looking at them together, however, strengthens both. The expansion of the internet into our things is easy to make accessible if they are work together. Retrofitting accessibility, however, can be much more costly.

While looking at these lists we can ask ourselves how these things are important to what we do and to the people we do it for. 

Today HTML5 was published as a W3C recommendation by the HTML Working Group. This defined the 5th major revision of HTML. Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director, explained that HTML5 and the Open Web Platform are driving growing user expectations. 

HTML5 enables the following and more:

  • Web video and audio tracks without plugins
  • Programmatic access to resolution-dependent bitmap canvas
  • Native support for SVG and MathML
  • Annotation important for Ruby
  • Features to enable accessibility of rich application

Web standards for the future from W3C on Vimeo.

The W3C’s Protocols and Formats Working Group has published the first public working draft of API Mappings 1.1 (Core-AAM). It supports the updated working Draft of Accessible Rich Internet Application (WAI-ARIA 1.1). WAI-ARIA helps to improve the accessibility and interoperability of web content by providing an ontology of roles, states, and properties that developers can use to define accessible user interface elements. Core-AAM shows developers how user agents should expose semantics of content languages to accessibility APIs across multiple content technologies and includes much of WAI- ARIA.

For more information on WAI-ARIA see Kathy Wahlbin’s Introduction to WAI-ARIA

Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA) 1.0 is now a World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Recommendation. Publishing WAI-ARIA is an important step making web content and application more accessible to people with disabilities. WAI-ARIA defines how developers of browsers, media players, mobile devices and assistive technologies (AT), and content developers can achieve better cross-platform accessibility. WAI-ARIA is introduce in the WAI-ARIA Overview.

More information on WAI-ARIA

Advancing Accessibility and Inclusion in Social Media – The User Experience, will be a virtual town hall dialogue examining the accessibility barriers of social media for people with disabilities. The dialogue is put on by The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy and the National Council on Disability. The public is invited to participate.

The Event will take place Monday, March 17, to Friday, April 4. It will be the first in a series of three social media events on accessibility held online and taking place over the next three months.

The Value of social media in the lives of people with disabilities will be explored through the conversation during the event. Focus will be on work and identifying accessibility issues and creative approaches to make social media tools more accessible and usable. As a participant you will be able to discuss your social media experiences and submit ideas, comments and vote on potential solutions.  

You can register for the event, which is being coordinated under ODEP’s ePolicyWorks initiative.

Some European Bank Struggle with Accessibility

According to research conducted by the University of Oviedo, Spain 74% of the time users with disabilities don’t have equal access to banks from the EU, as determined by a sample of 50 banks. The results further show that 26% of the banks presented acceptable levels of accessibility on their websites and over 36% of the banks analyzed had major accessibility issues.

Read more on the University of Oviedo’s research.

Infographics on the web have skyrocketed in popularity over the last few years for many great reasons. Often, they are able to quickly convey complex bits of information and show key relationships between data sets. For sighted users, representing data as an infographic actually improves accessibility. It’s easier to understand because infographics:

UC Davis, University of California, announces its commitment to an information technology environment that is accessible to all, and in particular to people with disabilities, is now an official UC policy.  The policy can be found in the UC Office of the President website, in the “Presidential Policies” section (search for “Information Technology Accessibility”).

The Policy was unveiled for public review by UC, in draft form, in May. The four-page policy and three-page addendum policy took affect August 27 with minimal changes. The policy defines accessible as follows: “Refers to the concept that people with disabilities are able to access and use a product or system, including with the help of assistive technologies. For example, an accessible website may be designed so that the text can be enlarged by the user, rather than having a fixed font size, or may be designed so that it can be interpreted and “read out loud” by screen reader software used by blind or low vision people.”

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