[CEUD-ICT] FW: E-Access Bulletin, May 2013: Web access guidelines 'ineffective'; Global accessibility awareness day.

Gerry Ellis gerry.ellis at feelthebenefit.com
Sat Jun 1 10:31:14 IST 2013


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Take care,

Gerry Ellis

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-----Original Message-----
From: Dan Jellinek [mailto:dan at headstar.com] 
Sent: 31 May 2013 22:44
To: eaccess at headstar.com
Subject: E-Access Bulletin, May 2013: Web access guidelines 'ineffective'; Global accessibility awareness day.

Access To Technology For All, Regardless Of Ability
- ISSUE 158, May 2013.

A Headstar Publication.
http://www.headstar.com/eab/ .
In association with Go ON Gold:
http://www.go-on-gold.co.uk .

Please forward this free bulletin to others (subscription details at
the end).

++Issue 158 Contents.

01: Web Access Guidelines “Ineffective”, Academic Claims
- Research finds user testing beats technical conformance.

02: First Council Elections For Accessible ICT Coalition
- Move to subscription membership “seminal moment".

03: Disability Still A Major Factor In Determining UK Internet Use
- Latest stats: 3.7m adults with disability have never been online.

News in Brief: 04: Improving e-Reading - Kindle e-reader app
upgrades; 05: HandsFree Donation - text campaign for digital
equality; 06: Assisted Digital - government seeks partners to help
people access online services.

Section Two: Inbox.
07: Solo Climb: Intrepid Scottish resident with retinitis
pigmentosa to attempt ascent of 3,000-high rock cliff face in
California to raise funds for sight and hearing loss charity

Section Three: Special Report - Global Accessibility Awareness
08: A Worldwide Audience For Web Accessibility: Tristan Parker
speaks to Joe Devon and Jennison Asuncion, founders of Global
Accessibility Awareness Day, now in its second year and proving a
remarkable success.

[Contents ends].

++Section One: News.

+01: International Web Access Guidelines “Ineffective”,
Academic Claims

Conforming to the international industry standard Web Content
Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) can be “ineffective” as a method
of reducing problems encountered by blind and visually impaired
web users, one IT academic has claimed.

The WCAG guidelines are created by the international World
Wide Web Consortium, which oversees web standards. In his
PhD thesis for the University of York, ‘Disabled people and the
Web: User-based measurement of accessibility’, André Pimenta
Freire – a specialist in human-computer interaction – writes that
a large number of problems on website pages encountered by
print-disabled computer users would not have been resolved by
conformance to WCAG criteria.

“Achieving certain conformance levels with WCAG 1.0 and WCAG
2.0 can be very ineffective as a means to reduce the numbers of
problems encountered by disabled users”, writes Freire. “The
way the conformance requirements are structured do not seem
to address the all-important concern of making websites that
disabled users can use better and encountering fewer

The claims are based on a study carried out as part of his thesis,
which involved task-based user evaluations of 16 websites from
64 users. Of these, 32 users were blind, 19 partially sighted and
13 dyslexic. Manual audits were used to determine website
conformance to WCAG 1.0 and 2.0.

The two primary aims of the study were to characterise the
problems that print-disabled computer users encounter through
websites, and to investigate the relationship between user-
defined accessibility issues and accessibility guidelines, with a
focus on WCAG. 1.0 and 2.0.

The study demonstrated that conforming to the checkpoints and
success criteria of WCAG does not necessarily, by itself, make a
website accessible to print-disabled users, says Freire.

Speaking to E-Access Bulletin, Helen Petrie, Professor of Human
Computer Interaction at the University of York and co-supervisor
for Freire’s PhD and the senior academic who led the research
for Freire’s thesis, said that although WCAG has made “a great
effort” and highlighted important problems, websites with
higher conformance to the guidelines are not easier to use for
blind users. “There is no significant difference in the number of
user problems on non-conformant sites and on conformant
sites”, Petrie said.

This has problematic implications if legislation or policy about web
accessibility were to be formed and based on WCAG
conformance, said Petrie. A further problem is that “developers
are struggling to understand [WCAG]”, Petrie said, meaning that
direct user-testing with disabled users should be encouraged as a
means of testing accessibility, she said.

Both Petrie and Freire stress the importance of involving disabled
users directly in the design and evaluation process of building
websites, and of moving away from “the technical conformance
approach” of accessibility.

“The conclusions reinforced the importance of involving disabled
users in the design and evaluation of websites as a key activity to
improve web accessibility … The current status quo of proposing
implementations based on expert opinion, or limited user
studies, has not yielded solutions to many of the current
problems print-disabled users encounter on the web”, writes

The thesis is available as a PDF from the links below:

Full link: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/3873/

Short link: http://bit.ly/14y6M1G

And you can comment on this story now, on EAB Live:

+02: First Council Elections For Accessible ICT Coalition

The OneVoice for Accessible ICT Coalition has elected its first
formal controlling council, as it works towards its goal of
becoming lead facilitator for the digital inclusion and accessible
ICT sectors in the UK.

Nigel Lewis, chief executive officer of technology access charity
AbilityNet and chair of OneVoice, told E-Access Bulletin that the
group aims to become a hub through which organisations from all
sectors can share information and best practice on inclusive ICT.

“One of the key roles OneVoice will play is to be a facilitator
between all of the organisations and other groups working in the
digital inclusion space”, Lewis said. “We can help join people and
groups together … I think there’s a real need for that, because
there are too many people doing great stuff in isolation.”

As well as engaging with digital inclusion groups, businesses,
government and other organisations, the long-term goals of
OneVoice will include helping to embed inclusion in the training
of IT professionals, and assisting organisations in delivering
inclusive systems, Lewis said.

Following elections at the coalition’s first AGM in May, OneVoice
has a council of seven members: Nigel Lewis; Graeme Whippy of
Lloyds TSB IT Accessibility Group; John Lamb of Ability Magazine;
Peter Abrahams of Bloor Research; Fiona Miller of BT, Ian Lyons
of Shaw Trust, and Howard Lester, an independent disability

OneVoice is now looking to secure funding to help pursue its
goals. At the recent AGM it was agreed that a fee structure for
membership will be introduced, and OneVoice will also be
looking for seeded project funding as well.

Current members include BT, AbilityNet, the Business Disability
Forum, disability campaigning network RADAR, technology
industry body Intellect, inclusive technology advisory service JISC
TechDis, and Lloyds Banking Group.

The recent AGM and council elections signalled a “seminal
moment” for OneVoice, said Lewis. “We’ve done a lot through
the current members and their goodwill and time, and I think this
is the moment we can make a real step change. There seems to
be a definite will to make that happen as I talk to more and more
people – current members and potential members as well. This
year should see a real change for OneVoice.”

For more information on OneVoice, see:
http://www.onevoiceict.org/home .

And you can comment on this story now, on EAB Live:

+03: Disability Still A Major Factor In Determining UK Internet
Use, Report Finds

UK adults with a disability are still three times less likely to have
used the internet than those without a disability, a report from
the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has shown.

The figures in the latest Internet Access Quarterly Update,
released every four months, show that at the first quarter of
2013, there were 3.7 million disabled adults – as defined by the
Disability Discrimination Act – who had never used the internet,
representing 32% of all adults in the UK with a disability.

The total amount of adults who had never used the internet at
the first quarter of 2013 was 7.1 million (14%), meaning that more
than half (53%) of this figure were people with a disability.

However there are fewer adults with a disability offline than
were shown in the ONS update for the previous quarter, which
reported 3.8 million adults with a disability never having gone
online. In fact, with several brief exceptions, this figure has been
falling regularly since the ONS began publishing its Internet
Access Quarterly Updates at the beginning of 2011, and the
figure of 3.7 million in the latest update is the lowest yet.

Age is another key factor in determining internet use, the report
shows. Only 34% (1.6 million people) of adults over 75 had used
the internet, meaning that the 3.1 million people aged 75 and
over who had not gone online made up 43% of the total of 7.1
million non-user adults.

The figures in the Internet Access Quarterly Update are derived
from the ONS Labour Force Survey, a continuous household
survey of employment circumstances of the UK population
conducted in England, Scotland and Wales. The latest version of
the update can be viewed below:

Short link: http://bit.ly/YIFMLA

Full link: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/rdit2/internet-access-

And you can comment on this story now, on EAB Live:

++News in Brief:

+04: Improving e-Reading: The latest version of Amazon’s Kindle
e-reader app for iOS – Apple’s operating system, used on the
iPhone and iPad – has been made more accessible for blind and
visually impaired users. The latest upgrade supports Apple’s
VoiceOver screen-reader technology, meaning that more than
1.8 million titles in the Kindle store can be read aloud to users.
Other iOS accessibility features, such as Zoom and Assistive
Touch, allowing users to customise touch controls, are also

Short link: http://bit.ly/Z8G26H

Full link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/kindle-read-books-

+05: Hands-Free Donation: Technology access charity AbilityNet
is asking people to send a text message without using their
hands, as part of their Look No Hands! campaign, to raise
awareness of how disability can affect the way people use
technology. Supporters are being asked to donate £2 to the
campaign by texting the phrase look132 to the number 70070
without using their hands – mirroring some of the difficulties that
a person with an impairment might face.

Short link: http://bit.ly/13s2Iih

Full link: http://www.abilitynet.org.uk/looknohands

+06: Assisted Digital: The Government Digital Service (GDS) has
begun speaking to potential partners to help the 18% of UK
adults who do not use the internet – including many people with
disabilities – to access online government services as part of the
government’s forthcoming “Assisted Digital” programme. To
begin the process, a “Prior Information Notice” has been placed
on the European Union’s Tenders Electronic Daily website for
public procurement notices, and an information event for
potential suppliers will be held on 13 June. The cost of the
project is estimated at £50 million:

Short link: http://bit.ly/11dbxZB

Full link: http://digital.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/2013/05/23/starting-

[Section One ends].

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++Section Two: 'The Inbox'
- Readers' Forum.

Please email all contributions or responses to:
inbox at headstar.com .

+07: Solo Climb: Thomas “Boots” Anderson, a 78-year-old former
RAF Mountain and Desert Rescue Team volunteer member,
writes in to tell us about a story of derring-do following our
coverage last issue of the blind adventurer Erik Weihenmayer.

“I read the story about Erik Weihenmayer with great interest”,
Thomas writes. “This month I met Steve Bate, a young Kiwi [New
Zealander] who lives in Moray and has a similar type of sight-
destroying disease as Erik.

“Steve is raising funds for North East Sensory Services by tackling
“El Capitan”, SOLO (!), in Yosemite National Park, US – before he
loses his sight.”

Further details of Steve Bate’s expedition can be found online. El
Capitan is a 3,000 foot high vertical rock formation, a tough
challenge indeed, and North East Sensory Services is an
Aberdeen-based charity providing emotional and practical
support to people in the Northeast of England affected by a sight
or hearing loss.

As Bate’s expedition page on Facebook explains: “Now I have
the chance to prove to myself that big dreams can come true if
we work hard enough. A year in the planning and training to try
and prepare myself for the biggest challenge I have ever faced, a
3,000ft rock face solo. The scariest thing is to commit to try
something so extreme and make it public, now after a year all
that's left is to climb it!”

“Visual Aid – Climb Zodiac” Facebook page:

Short link:
Full link:

Justgiving donations page:

Further responses please to inbox at headstar.com .

[Section Two ends].

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Section Three: Special Report
- Global Accessibility Awareness Day.

+08: A Worldwide Audience For Web Accessibility
By Tristan Parker

This year, 9 May recently marked the second Global Accessibility
Awareness Day (GAAD), an event that aims to encourage web
developers and related communities to think about accessibility
for disabled computer users when designing and building web

GAAD was inspired by a blog post in which US-based developer
Joe Devon called for widespread accessible web design. The post
was noticed by accessibility professional Jennison Asuncion, and
the two began working to raise the profile of digital accessibility.

Individuals and organisations from across the globe create and
take part in awareness-raising activities during GAAD, from
holding talks to tweeting accessibility messages to using only part
of a computer to simulate the barriers faced by someone with an
impairment or disability.

Here, Devon and Asuncion speak to E-Access Bulletin about the
aims of GAAD and the 2013 event.

EAB: Please tell us about the background to Global Accessibility
Awareness Day.

Joe: I had seen this video by Victor Tsaran, a blind accessibility
programmer working for Yahoo! He was demonstrating what it
was like to surf the internet using a screen reader [video here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izrC4R7SsH4 ].

He was surfing the Yahoo! site with links all over the place. I was
fascinated by how quickly the screen-reader navigated through
the content. And it got me thinking about how important it was
that markup [a type of computer language] be done

Fast forward five years, I was watching my father struggle with a
banking website. He was 86 at the time, with severe hearing
impairment and reduced visual acuity. It was terrible the struggle
he faced when calling the bank and trying to navigate their
voicemail system.

You would think that moving banking activity online would help
things out. But it didn’t. Responding to an email from the bank
once resulted in him getting phished. So you can’t trust that. It’s
great that the bank has direct messages. He wrote a message
with an issue once, and then he got an email telling him there
was a response on the website. But he didn’t know if that was

I watched him go to the website and realised that although there
was an alert that he had a message, it was so subtle there was no
way he would notice it. Had the bank done user-testing with the
elderly, they would have known this. The situation got me mad.
And inspired me to write a blog post suggesting a Global
Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) for web development

I thought it would be ignored, like all my other blog posts.
However, Jennison Asuncion, a digital accessibility professional in
Toronto (I was living in Los Angeles), stumbled upon it on Twitter
and told me we had to make it happen. And so GAAD was born.

EAB: Who are the main team behind GAAD and how did those
people become involved?

Joe: Well, I suppose Jennison and I are volunteers for life. But so
many people have been pitching in that it would be hard to even
tell you who is “the team”. Informally there seems to be a tight-
knit community and they are all in with us.

Jennison: It was really amazing to see folks step up. Whether it
was volunteering to translate text into different languages,
people tweeting, writing and blogging to promote the day,
others organising events at their companies/organisations, many
have much to be proud of.

EAB: Do you think GAAD 2013 was the biggest yet?

Joe: GAAD 2013 was only our second year. GAAD 2012 blew us
away. We never expected such a response. We thought it would
take a much bigger effort to take off, but I guess we touched a
nerve. Now GAAD 2013 was so beyond expectation, that yes, it
was the biggest so far.

EAB: What preparation took place for this year’s event?

Joe: My father got cancer in November 2012 and passed away
mid-February. So I was pretty out of it for this year’s
preparations. But basically Jennison worked social media and his
personal network, and people contacted us. Jennison directed
changes to the website and Facebook almost daily. Web
developer Mindy Morgan (with Diamond Web Services) was
extremely helpful throughout this procedure and she made the
changes. Not to mention designed a killer logo and redid my
awful website layout from the year before. Finally, L.A.-based
accessibility specialist Joseph O’Connor made sure our event’s
site was accessible.

EAB: Although it’s very much a widespread event with people
undertaking their own projects, from a personal perspective,
how was GAAD 2013?

Joe: I just couldn’t believe my eyes. I did a representative count
of tweets on the GAAD hashtag and it was about a tweet a
minute. I’m far from having seen all the tweets. I did notice that
the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] tweeted
accessibility all day to celebrate the event. We had many
corporations do internal events. From Facebook to Intuit [a
United States-based financial software company] to PayPal to
coverage on .Net’s online magazine, with Mindy’s logo on the
cover, it was overwhelming. I still can’t believe what grew out of
a simple blog post.

Jennison: Echoing Joe, I was taken aback at how much interest
GAAD had. In addition to the number of events held for the
public and at schools/companies/organisations around the world,
for me, it was hearing from the folks from the National
Association of the Physical Disabled - Nepal who held an
awareness session with the local IT community and the
Independent Living Resource Centre in St. John’s, Canada, that
were particularly thrilling. I encourage readers to go to
www.globalaccessibilityawarenessday.org to see what went on,
it was truly amazing.

EAB: Have there been any projects or results that have already
arisen as a result of GAAD 2013?

Joe: Jennison and I are working on starting a foundation and a
book to further the goals of Global Accessibility Awareness Day.
Specifically, to make web development professionals and others
in the high-tech industry aware of digital accessibility. You would
be amazed how few even know what a screen-reader is and
what other assistive technology is out there!

Jennison: One of the areas we'll also be working on is continuing
to translate and provide info on GAAD in other languages to
make this a truly global effort in 2014. Stay tuned to our website,
our Twitter feed @gbla11yday and our Facebook page:

And you can comment on this story now, on EAB Live:

[Section Three ends]

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++End Notes.

+How to Receive the Bulletin.

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Please send comments on coverage or leads to Dan Jellinek at:
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Copyright 2013 Headstar Ltd http://www.headstar.com .
The Bulletin may be reproduced as long as all parts including this
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Editor: Dan Jellinek.
Reporter: Tristan Parker.
Editorial advisor: Kevin Carey.

ISSN 1476-6337.

[Issue 158 ends.] 

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