Friday, September 28, 2012

Creating an Accessible Web Design Community of Practice

Thursday, September 27, 2012
  • Present: Anna Golden, DO-IT; Terrill Thompson, DO-IT; Katherine Turner; UW Marketing; Joel Walters, Admissions; Dan Druliner, Facilities; Kyle Russell, Education; Heather Wozniak, A&S; Conrad Kuehn, Rehab Medicine; Krista Greear, Disabilities Resources for Students; Melinda McRae, Social Work; Amanda Paye, ADA coordinator; Char Easter, HCD alumni
  • Announcements
    • The D-Center will open in December; will centralize services related to disabilities
    • Kyle Russell, a grad student in Education is looking for people "willing to help me by being participants in my dissertation project focusing on how accessibilty is considered as part of Web development." If you are interested in volunteering, send email to .
  • Given the growing interest in accessible Web design, how can we work together to improve our websites?
    • An Accessibility Intiative is being planned.  First steps are 
      • Enhancement of online resources, including the Accessible Technology at the UW site
      • Promotion of Accessible IT, including AccessibleWeb@U speakers and events
      • Exploration of policies and processes to develop an approach appropriate to the UW
  • How many UW sites are there?
    • 720 sites are using the URL forwarding service offered by UW-IT. Many other sites exist that do not use that service
    • A wild estimate is that we are dealing with approximately 2500 official UW sites
      • How many are on the "critical path" for our faculty, staff, and students with disabilities?
  • Needs
    • New technologies keep coming; whatever approach we use needs to accommodate constant change
    • ARIA is important as interfaces are given more features that respond to user behaviors
      • With increasing use of scripting and AJAX, ARIA is critical to making things accessible
    • Economical captioning is an important need as more classes use video
    • Giving support people resources they can use to explain the need for accessible design and to explain how to do it.
      • Having campus-wide policies are helpful to support people
    • Accessible templates that people can use in their sites and CMSs
    • Procurement process should effectively include accessibility considerations
      • Give preference to products that produce accessible documents and sites right out of the box.
    • Mobile devices are big. We need to understand accessible mobile design.
      • If a site works with Apple VoiceOver, can it be considered accessible?
  • How should we begin?
    • We should begin our accessibility initiative by evaluating where we are:
      • In the real world, what are people experiencing as they try to use our sites and services
      • The SiteImprove scanner only gives you information on explicit criteria. What problems are people actually having?
      • We could systematically interview people working with and supporting people with disabilities. The results could help us plan.
    • Rules, process and structure can help us make progress, but they should not be too confining; they could squelch progress without improving the situation
    • We need to define what is good enough; What are the standards we work to, which are primary, which are secondary?
    • Accessibility requirements are not as intuitive as safety requirements
      • Easy to ask compliance for safety; "Wear a helmet"
    • Standards are changing; older standards were prescriptive
      • Technologies are changing rapidly
    • What can we actually achieve?
  • Role of the "Accessible Web Design Community of Practice"
    • Helping communities form and interconnect
    • Presentation about what people are experiencing at the UW
    • Organize accessibility testing sessions
      • In usability testing, watching somebody struggle with your design can be very educational
        • How can we do that kind of thing for accessibility
    • We could connect with UW departments interested in accessibility
      • Human Centered Design & Engineering (
      • iSchool (
      • College of Education (
      • Computer Science & Engineering (
        • Richard Ladner is conducting an Accessibility Research seminar this quarter
    • We could host speakers on accessibility related projects at the UW
    • Serve as a place to encourage careful planning and effective actions to address accessibility issues
  • Shared designs give leverage
    • UW Marketing Web team is developing a Wordpress template that is being carefully designed to be accessible. Many central sites can/will be moved into this system.
    • The same design is being converted into a Drupal theme
    • Parts of the design will also be available in the Header/Footer wizard for those maintaining static or hand-coded sites.
    • The result is that a large number of key sites will be using the same carefully vetted design
    • What other opportunities for shared designs are there?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Web Accessibility Policy and the Penn State Experience

Terrill Thompson – Technology Accessibility Specialist

Web and IT Accessibility Policy in Higher Education

·         Discussion

  • National Federation of the Blind is actively suing universities. One of their goals, apparently, is to use universities (which must address accessibility) to pressure vendors (which are not included in accessibility laws) to improve accessibility in their products
  • Generally, NFB will not sue an institution that has a plan for addressing accessibility and is working on it. They are more likely to focus on institutions that have drifted toward environments that are inaccessible through lack of policy and planning.

Rick Ells – UW-IT Web Guy

The Penn State Experience

·         Discussion

  • Viewpoints expressed
    • It would be good to avoid a lawsuit.
    • We need top down push that accessibility is important, everyone is expected to comply with standards
    • Much work on accessibility is already going on at many levels. Much could be achieved by making people aware of each other’s good work
    • We need to decide what standard we are shooting for: WCAG 2 Level AA, updated 508, or what?
    • There needs to be a Web site people can go to that says how to test your site’s accessibility and how to fix its problems.
    • How about some events? Perhaps some coding competitions to address puzzles, or a un-conference of Web developers addressing accessibility
    • How can we do this that we do not over specify and thus squish innovation and creative designs?

Friday, June 01, 2012

Accessibility of Mobile Devices and Accessible Mobile Web Site Design

AccessibleWeb@U Meeting Notes

Thursday, May 24, 2012

  • VoiceOver Basics - Rick Ells (
    • The VoiceOver voice browser is on Apple iPhones, iPads, and OSX laptop and desktop computers
      • On iPhones and iPads, go to Settings -> General -> Accessibility -> VoiceOver
      • On OSX laptops and desktops, go to Finder -> Go -> Applications -> Utilities -> VoiceOver Utility
    • VoiceOver is highly respected by people with disabilities and is a mature, polished product. It is also free (or at least it comes at no extra cost with many Apple products, which are not free).
    • Using VoiceOver to interact with your site will give you an understanding of how usable your site is to a person using assistive technology.
      • Exploring your pages with VoiceOver can give you a basic evaluation of how useful it will be to people who use assistive technologies.
      • Many developers only think visually as they design the user interface (UI) and user interaction. A sighted person can see and use any part of the display directly. A person using assistive technology probably has to explore the interface linearly, item by item, one item at a time.
      • Good UI design can provide both a good visual experience and a good linear (audio) experience.
    • Turning on / turning off VoiceOver on iPhones and iPads
      • Turning on VoiceOver
        • Go to Settings -> General -> Accessibility -> VoiceOver
        • Once VoiceOver is on you are in a different interaction mode: First you find an item, then you double-tap anywhere on the screen to evoke it.
        • You move to items by sliding your finger around on the screen. As your finger goes over items, VoiceOver will speak their name or description.
        • You can also navigate among items with left, right, up, and down flicks.
      • Turning off VoiceOver
        • Double-tap the Settings icon on your homepage.
        • Use three fingers to scroll down to the General menu, and double-click on it. Click for image.
        • Use three fingers to scroll down to the Accessibility menu, and double-click on it. Click for image.
        • Double-tap on the VoiceOver menu item. Click for image.
        • Turn VoiceOver off
      • Mute and un-mute
        • Three finger double-tap mutes or unmutes the sound
    • Using a bluetooth keyboard
      • Entering text or numbers can be tedious. For each character to find the character then double tap.
      • If you have a bluetooth keyboard, you can directly enter characters as you normally would
    • Apple manual on VoiceOver for OSX devices is at
    • Getting Started with VoiceOver on iOS devices is at
  • Mobile Design Examples - Terrill Thompson (
    • Test site with four annotated example mobile page designs -
    • These are tests, you are welcome to visit them, but they will change
    • The examples are in HTML5
      • How well is HTML5 supported by assistive technology?
        • JAWS 13 supports HTML5 elements as landmarks
          • You can skip among landmarks
          • Do not need to use "skip to content"
        • VoiceOver does not recognize HTML5 elements as landmarks
          • VoiceOver does support ARIA landmarks
          • You can use ARIA to mark up areas of page with "roles" (banner, main, navigation, etc.) (
    • Use your smartphone to try out these examples. To better understand how they work, view them with a laptop/desktop browser and view their source code.
    • Example 1
      • Demonstrates width and font-size change when you double tap on a block of text.
      • The recommendation is to set column widths between 30-60% to get a reasonable enlargement effect
    • Example 2
      • Demonstrates the effect of constraining width with absolute units.
      • The recommendation is to use relative widths ( percents or ems)
    • Example 3
      • Demonstrates supplementing HTML5 with ARIA roles
      • Each element that has an ARIA landmark role also needs an aria-label attribute
    • Example 4
      • Demonstrates problems with dropdown items evoked by image icons in the header
        • "search image" "menu image" - a visitor might not recognize that they are clickable
          • In this example, they are simple images with javascript
          • Could add "role=button" ARIA
      • Pop-ups can be given an ARIA role of alert, will be announced by screenreaders
        • Focus stays where the pop-up was evoked
        • Text is read
        • role="alert"
      • Go to more accessible version at bottom of page
        • Uses the ARIA button role; announces as "show search"
        • When the user evokes search, button becomes "hide search"
        • Better to use ARIA button instead of link, which people might assume goes to a different page
  • Android Assistive Technologies - Dan Comden (

Monday, March 26, 2012

Access Technology and the Web

AccessibleWeb@U Meeting Notes
March 22, 2012

Dan Comden
Access Technology Center
Mary Gates Hall 064

Presentation Slide Deck

Products Demonstrated

More Information

Friday, February 24, 2012

Accessibility Lessons Learned in the Kuali Rice Project

February 23, 2012 Meeting Notes
  • Meetings will continue to be on the fourth Thursday of each month
    • Is meeting on the same day as the Web Council a problem?
    • Since most of the meetings are during lunch hour, continuing to meet on the same day is not a big burden for people on campus
    • Having both meetings on the same day is helpful to people coming from off-campus (from Tacoma or Bothell)
  • Guest Speaker: Candace Soderston, a User Experience Architect for the Kuali Rice Project
  • Next Meeting: Thursday, March 22 in Allen Auditorium (as usual)
    • Dan Comden, Access Technology Consultant of the Access Technology Center will talk on “Assistive Technologies in Use at the UW”

Remember you can always send your questions about accessible design to the AccessibleWeb@U email list (
Minutes from meetings are also posted on our blog at An more comprehensive archive of past minutes (going back to 2003) is located at