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Thread: ADA Web Accessibility Standards and A/V Design

  1. #1
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    In the excitement of creating visually oriented media, there are some key developments worldwide and specifically in the U.S. that have impact for both Federal sites today and potentially private commercial web sites. Are you relying on those sites to fund your life? This is important stuff.

    This thread is open ended to generate good discussion and solutions from other's experiences. Thank you for contributing.

    How do we develop Flash style media for this group? The Federal government is forcing the issue. For example, watching various forums intensively for the last month, I see continuing problems raised with site navigation design and color differentiation (and that's for those of us that can see well). How do we help ourselves solve this?

    http://www.w3c.org/WAI/ is the home page of the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative. For those not familiar with the W3C, here is a quote: "The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) develops interoperable technologies (specifications, guidelines, software, and tools) to lead the Web to its full potential as a forum for information, commerce, communication, and collective understanding. ". Everything you ever wanted to know (including guidelines) is here.

    Here's another link.
    http://www.clickz.com/search/opt/article.php/839601
    A quote from this article:
    'Accessibility is becoming a hot topic these days with the recent adoption of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and increasingly improved technologies that convert text to voice. Soon everyone -- not just visually impaired users -- will be able to hear Web content. Although these new rules currently apply to U.S. government Web sites only, a recent Wired news article, "Fed Opens Web to Disabled," speculates that these guidelines "will soon be extended to include all private commercial sites." '

    The exception to meeting the rule will be expense or due cause (under the ruling). The burden of proof is on the developer, not the end user's needs. It defaults to no exceptions.

    As a good friend of mine is wheelchair bound with limited use of his hands, I am more sensitive to those needs than other folks might be. And yet, he holds several Microsoft certifications and I consider him exceptional in the computer field. His problem is not visual, it is the mechanics of data entry and interaction with web page elements. Where do we go from here?


  2. #2
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    accessability

    this subject was covered a few weeks ago on flashkit.

    these are my thoughts..

    i dont think that this is as big an issue as it appears to be, as i believe these rules only apply to information sites published by the US government, and i applaud them for taking this initiative.
    be that as it may, it wont affect site design in the slightest for anyone else, otherwise we would have had to have large print newspapers to cater for the visually impaired years ago (for example).

    whilst i have every sympathy for anyone with any sort of disability, the commercial world caters for the majority,
    and thats what most of us are designing for.


  3. #3
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    We did discuss this issue previously but many topics come up again and new opinions and ideas are always welcome.
    By way of a correction to the title of this thread, the ADA is not the same thing as the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The much feared Section 508 is part of the Rehabilitation Act, not the ADA. The ADA may or may not affect web content. A recent court challenge was settled out of court.

    We often assume that accessibility is only concerned with visual impairment. However, it actually deals with other impairments, as well. Numerous adaptive technology exists with which disabled individuals access the web and use computers, generally.

    While some commercial enterprises may find it acceptable to disregard the needs of the one in five North Americans who are disabled, a desire for good public relations and an eye on the bottom line will cause many to rethink the idea that the disabled are not a significant demographic.

    The fact is, Section 508 is not really that onerous. It basically is the same as http://www.w3.org/wai Level A - the lowest level of accessibility and the level that W3C suggests for ALL websites.

    Accessibility goes hand in hand with interoperability. When web content is accessible to adaptive device translation, it is most likely accessible by alternative web browsing devices such as WAP and cell phones, PDAs, etc. These are devices that are used by both the disabled and the able-bodied public.

    At jelve.com, we have recently embraced the accessibility issue as an opportunity to offer value added service. Have a look at our new site, 508 Now, for some further insights on this topic.
    [Edited by jelve on 08-21-2001 at 05:45 PM]

  4. #4
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    Jelve and Darkstar,

    Thanks for the info. I bookmarked 508_Now and will review it when I get a few. I had read 508 months ago, and from a dhtml view, it was not anything that difficult to get in the habit of. Most of it I already was to some degree!

    My poorly worded intent was to see how folks were implementing Flash style A/V as it relates to 508, or more importantly, people. As a boomer, I am reaching the point of diminishing eyesite and hearing.

    I am new to Flash, old to programming. I have been amazed at how flash style A/V can improve a site's look, but at a loss at the seemingly routine acceptance of generally bad combination of colors, impossible navigation, and other items that were generally unacceptable from a design perspective during the "pre-flash" days of KISS principle web design and web-safe color usage.

    Here's a couple of links you may or may not have. Other folks reading this may want them.
    http://trace.wisc.edu/world/ Click the Laws, Regulations, and Other Governmental Efforts link

    http://www.section508.gov/index.html
    http://www.access-board.gov/508.htm

  5. #5
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    one in 5

    "While some commercial enterprises may find it acceptable to disregard the needs of the one in five North Americans who are disabled, a desire for good public relations and an eye on the bottom line will cause many to rethink the idea that the disabled are not a significant demographic. "


    i find it hard to believe that 1 in 5 ppl in the US can't view or operate the average site though.

    ps, please dont think that i am totally ignoring this section of the community, its just that the line i am trying to follow is a commercial one, and if i knew of anyone or any org who needed such a site then i would gladly do it and apply all of the as i would do any other site.

    imho the reality of it is that a lot of people browsing want to see cool slick mutlimedia presentations.

    i dont mean to sound cruel but theres not many vision impaired ppl who want to drive a car. if you look at most of the car manufacturing giants web sites i dont think there is much, if any, provision for the disabled on any of them.


    am i being pragmatic or heartless, i really dont know.














  6. #6
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    The one-in-five figure is based on US and Canadian census figures and is widely quoted and accepted in the 'disability press'. Of that 20%, not all are disabled in such a way that it affect the way in which they interact with the internet. That figure is more like 9% of all web users. Whether or not 9% represents a significant factor or not could be largely subjective, based on the product or service that is being described on the website.
    Market surveys actually indicate that, in fact, a lot of people don't want to see multimedia when they are using the web. If we consider the internet as no more than an entertainment vehicle, something like interactive television, we fail to recognize the fact that the internet has always been and continues to be a place to disseminate and gather information. That information may not be limited to entertainment or marketing. A news portal like CNN or BBC would be a good example of a large web property that falls outside the entertainment area.
    Accessibility guidelines do not preclude the use of any multimedia. The standards merely state that an alternative version be made available. The use of a simple <longdesc> tags can often make a multimedia site deliver the same information to the disabled person as they are delivering to everyone else.
    A court case in Australia recently awarded punitive damages to a disabled private citizen to be paid by a private organization whose website was not accessible. The ADA in the US is sure to be tested in its application to the web and other IT.
    AOL just backed down from an accessibility case and is spending millions on redevelopment of it's UI rather than face civil action.
    Nearly all major software and hardware manufacturers now have dedicated accessibilty departments.
    If these types of things can be litigated under laws like the ADA, then the pragmatic approach would be to make sure your client doesn't get sued for inaccessible work that you have contracted.

  7. #7
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    accessability

    Jelve

    "A court case in Australia recently awarded punitive damages to a disabled private citizen to be paid by a private organization whose website was not accessible."

    i would be very grateful if you have any more info on that case as the Court ruling may set some sort of precedent and be able to help my confused situation.






    [Edited by darkstar on 08-25-2001 at 07:58 PM]

  8. #8
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    Deatils of Bruce Lindsay Maguire v Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games can be found at http://scaleplus.law.gov.au/html/dda...0/DD000120.htm .
    More info on this case is available at:

    http://www.tomw.net.au/2001/bat2001.html#maguire

    http://www.cat.org.au/aoa/documents/maguire.html

    http://www.humanrights.gov.au/disabi...ec/comdec.html

    Regarding Flash and accessibility, MM has been doing some serious work on this issue. In addition to its web material at http://www.macromedia.com/software/f...accessibility/ they are holding seminars in major US cities.

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