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Accessibility

From Wikipedia ("web accessibility" as of Oct 20, 2009):
Web accessibility refers to the practice of making websites usable by people of all abilities and disabilities. When sites are correctly designed, developed and edited, all users can have equal access to information and functionality. For example, when a site is coded with semantically meaningful HTML, with textual equivalents provided for images and with links named meaningfully, this helps blind users using text-to-speech software and/or text-to-Braille hardware. When text and images are large and/or enlargable, it is easier for users with poor sight to read and understand the content. When links are underlined (or otherwise differentiated) as well as coloured, this ensures that color blind users will be able to notice them. When clickable links and areas are large, this helps users who cannot control a mouse with precision. When pages are coded so that users can navigate by means of the keyboard alone, or a single switch access device alone, this helps users who cannot use a mouse or even a standard keyboard. When videos are closed captioned or a sign language version is available, deaf and hard of hearing users can understand the video. When flashing effects are avoided or made optional, users prone to seizures caused by these effects are not put at risk. And when content is written in plain language and illustrated with instructional diagrams and animations, users with dyslexia and learning difficulties are better able to understand the content. When sites are correctly built and maintained, all of these users can be accommodated while not impacting on the usability of the site for non-disabled users.

...or, more generally...

From Wikipedia ("accessibility" as of Oct 20, 2009):
Accessibility is a general term used to describe the degree to which a product (e.g., device, service, environment) is accessible by as many people as possible. Accessibility can be viewed as the "ability to access" the functionality, and possible benefit, of some system or entity. Accessibility is often used to focus on people with disabilities and their right of access to entities, often through use of assistive technology. Several definitions of accessibility refer directly to access-based individual rights laws and regulations. Products or services designed to meet these regulations are often termed Easy Access or Accessible.

uAKS Accessibility Goals

uAKS seeks to achieve:
  • W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 AA compliance
  • Section 508 Amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

What Microsoft Says

Microsoft includes some very simple accessibility features in SharePoint. While uAKS seeks to achieve accessibility thru a more thorough standards-based implementation, it's important to know what's available in the box. In addition to these features, be sure to check out the Section-508-specific documentation, linked in the 508 section below.

W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

From Wikipedia (as of Oct 20, 2009):
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are part of a series of Web accessibility guidelines published by the W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative. They consist of a set of guidelines on making content accessible, primarily for disabled users, but also for all user agents, including highly limited devices, such as mobile phones. The current version is 2.0.

WCAG was originally published in May 1999 and superceded in Dec 2008. WCAG consists of three priority levels:
  • Priority 1 (A): Web developers must satisfy these requirements, otherwise it will be impossible for one or more groups to access the Web content
  • Priority 2 (AA): Web developers should satisfy these requirements, otherwise some groups will find it difficult to access the Web content
  • Priority 3 (AAA): Web developers may satisfy these requirements, in order to make it easier for some groups to access the Web content

The following rules cover the high-level guidelines provided by WCAG2. The WCAG documentation covers in-depth description and implementation for each.
  1. Perceivable
    1. A Provide text alternatives for any non-text content so that it can be changed into other forms people need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols or simpler language
    2. A+AA+AAA Provide alternatives for time-based media
    3. A Create content that can be presented in different ways (for example simpler layout) without losing information or structure
    4. A+AA+AAA Make it easier for users to see and hear content including separating foreground from background
  2. Operable
    1. A+AAA Make all functionality available from a keyboard
    2. A+AAA Provide users enough time to read and use content
    3. A+AAA Do not design content in a way that is known to cause seizures
    4. A+AA+AAA Provide ways to help users navigate, find content, and determine where they are
  3. Understandable
    1. A+AA+AAA Make text content readable and understandable
    2. A+AA+AAA Make Web pages appear and operate in predictable ways
    3. A+AA+AAA Help users avoid and correct mistakes
  4. Robust
    1. A Maximize compatibility with current and future user agents, including assistive technologies

The original version of HiSoftware AKS 2.0 sought to give you the option of choosing between WCAG 1.0 and 2.0 compliance. This is because it had the laudible goal of educating users. Our primary goal is to solve the problem, with a secondary goal of education thru documentation and collaboration. In an effort to simplify the solution, we're focusing on the latest, WCAG 2.0 recommendation. If WCAG 1.0 is important to you and your organization, please let us know and we will investigate options to support both. Unfortunately, due to how Control Adapters work, it's an all-or-nothing solution for an entire web app.

US Section 508

From Wikipedia (as of Oct 20, 2009):
In 1998 the US Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, to make available new opportunities for people with disabilities, and to encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals. The law applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology. Under Section 508 (29 U.S.C. § 794d), agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information that is comparable to the access available to others.

As mentioned above, Section 508 was published in 1998. Of particular interest to uAKS is Subsection B § 1194.22, Web-based intranet and internet information and applications, which defines the following rules.
  • (a) [WCAG 1.1] A text equivalent for every non-text element shall be provided (e.g., via "alt", "longdesc", or in element content)
  • (b) [WCAG 1.2] Equivalent alternatives for any multimedia presentation shall be synchronized with the presentation
  • (c) [WCAG 1.4] Web pages shall be designed so that all information conveyed with color is also available without color, for example from context or markup
  • (d) [WCAG CR4, CR5] Documents shall be organized so they are readable without requiring an associated style sheet
  • (e) [WCAG 1.1] Redundant text links shall be provided for each active region of a server-side image map
  • (f) [WCAG 1.1] Client-side image maps shall be provided instead of server-side image maps except where the regions cannot be defined with an available geometric shape
  • (g) [WCAG 1.3] Row and column headers shall be identified for data tables
  • (h) [WCAG 1.3] Markup shall be used to associate data cells and header cells for data tables that have two or more logical levels of row or column headers
  • (i) [WCAG 2.4, 4.1] Frames shall be titled with text that facilitates frame identification and navigation
  • (j) [WCAG 2.3] Pages shall be designed to avoid causing the screen to flicker with a frequency greater than 2 Hz and lower than 55 Hz
  • (k) [WCAG CR1] A text-only page, with equivalent information or functionality, shall be provided to make a web site comply with the provisions of this part, when compliance cannot be accomplished in any other way. The content of the text-only page shall be updated whenever the primary page changes.
  • (l) When pages utilize scripting languages to display content, or to create interface elements, the information provided by the script shall be identified with functional text that can be read by assistive technology.
  • (m) When a web page requires that an applet, plug-in or other application be present on the client system to interpret page content, the page must provide a link to a plug-in or applet that complies with §1194.21(a) through (l).
  • (n) [WCAG 3.3] When electronic forms are designed to be completed on-line, the form shall allow people using assistive technology to access the information, field elements, and functionality required for completion and submission of the form, including all directions and cues.
  • (o) [WCAG 2.4] A method shall be provided that permits users to skip repetitive navigation links.
  • (p) When a timed response is required, the user shall be alerted and given sufficient time to indicate more time is required.
NOTE: Section 508 documents direct links from items (a) thru (k) to WCAG1 guidelines. We have provided links to their WCAG2 equivalents and also added associations for (n) and (o), which are new to WCAG2.

Section 508 VPATs

One of the documents you'll most likely run across when dealing with 508 compliance is the Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT). This document covers how products comply with Section 508 rules. Microsoft offers VPATs for a number of products. For our purposes, only the following are applicable: A few additional VPATs you may be interested in are:

References

Last edited Nov 18, 2009 at 12:54 PM by flanakin, version 8

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