Web Site Accessibility (Panel)
TAN Tin Wee <firstname.lastname@example.org> (Moderator)
Mike BURKS <email@example.com>
Mike PACIELLO <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Len KASDAY <email@example.com>
Chris HIZNY <firstname.lastname@example.org>
José Luis PARDOS <email@example.com>
Introduction - Mike Burks
Definition of accessibility - Mike Burks
Ease of use
Web pages should be easy to use. If you have to struggle to movethrough the pages, or you get confused reading the text, or lookingat the pictures, or you cannot figure out how to do somethingon the site, it is not as accessible as it should be. If you havea disability and cannot use the site at all, it is not accessible.
Usable by all
An accessible site is usable by all that come to the site, disabledor not. It is as simple as that. The more people who can use it,the more people will be able to understand your message.
Why it is important
Web sites should be accessible to all who come to them. If partof the audience is unable to access your site they cannot understandthe message you are trying to convey.
Whom it will affect
Everyone is affected; accessible Web sites are usable by a largeraudience.
Justification for accessible Web sites
Designing for accessibility
Moving to the mainstream
Why so many Web accessibility problems?
Keyword = Design
Web access and design problems
For the blind and visually impaired
For the deaf
Helpful design guidelines
First five basic guidelines
A few more...
Evaluation and enhancement of accessibilityover the Web - Leonard Kasday
Tools and services: local aids
Possible services delivered over the Web
Tools and services: meta-information
WAI Ratings and Certification Interest Group role
Accessibility and XML - Chris Hizny
The power of XML in addressing accessibility issues is the factthat, like its SGML precursor, XML separates data from its presentation.Within a structured authoring environment, all documents withina knowledge base should theoretically adhere to a single set ofrules. Display scripts (or style sheets) can then be used in variousways to tailor the presentation of the data to a specific audience.
Using style sheets
A catalog of distinctly different style sheets may be applied toa single set of documents -- each style sheet may address a specificaudience, taking into account whatever considerations make ordinarydata retrieval and consumption difficult.
Let us take this simple XML document fragment:
<INFO AUTHOR="Marshall McLuhan" CONCEPT="User interfaces" SOURCE="The Medium is the Massage"></INFO> <SUMMARY><P>In analyzing McLuhan's claim that we walk backwards into the future, looking back on our own past, one might extrapolate that user interfaces generally attempt to mimic past paradigms for this reason. Consider <PRODUCT>Adobe Photoshop</PRODUCT> and its references to "paintbrushes" and the like, which do not exist in the online world, except notionally. In using terms and concepts that people understand, interfaces become easier to learn for those who have not been involved in the digital revolution. The problem with this philosophy of interface design, however, is that these interfaces, then, become limited by the "old" concepts that they imitate. </P></SUMMARY> <DETAIL><P>Consider the fact that new paradigms based on the nature of computers themselves may be more difficult to learn, but since they rest on the design of the PC itself, may be more powerful.</P> <P>Benefits of struggling toward new paradigms for user interface design include: </P> <LIST TYPE="bullet"><LI>More powerful features, which harness computer facilities which have no "analog" in the pre-digital world.</LI> <LI>Forcing people to think in new ways, which may influence creativity and bring the user "closer" to his computer</LI>
Note that unlike HTML, the above tag language (which is anapplication of the XML metalanguage) does not address style or presentation-- it merely tags information with concepts. For example, the
In HTML, browsers are hard-coded and stupid. This is not meantas a slight on HTML, of course; rather, the two tag languages servedifferent purposes. HTML was developed as a Web standard forpublication with the intent that it be:
Like word processing documents, HTML documents are tagged with style. Thosedocuments are then interpreted for display by browsers that havetheir display algorithm hard-coded. Two browsers may, for example,display a paragraph (
In fact, it is interesting to note that both XML and HTML camefrom the same parent language, SGML.
How, then, does XML differ from HTML in terms of accessibility?Mostly, XML enables application developers to write their owntag language, determine the rules and hierarchy of that tag language,and display the data in a variety of ways. Let's return to ourXML fragment.
Presently, a style sheet language called XSL, or Extensible StylesheetLanguage, is being discussed by the W3C and has in fact been submittedfor approval as a standard. Future XML-compatiblebrowsers will utilize two distinct documents (rather than one aswith HTML) to display information. The first will be the XML document(or "instance"), and the second will be the style sheet.The browser will use the style sheet to determine how the datawill be displayed.
Consider just two of the possibilities in terms of accessibility:
For low-bandwidth connections, plain text might be the optimalform of display. High-bandwidth users may want the informationmore intricately formatted. In HTML, it might have been necessaryto produce two versions of the same document. In XML, only thestyle sheet changes, while the same document is served to bothkinds of users -- one utilizing extensive formatting (includingtables, frames, etc.) and one utilizing simple formatting.
Example: The metadata contained in the
The size of text and type of font may be specified in style sheets.A style sheet with large, easier-to-read fonts might be deliveredfor the visually impaired user. In more difficult circumstances,a style sheet that does not use frames or tables (which screenreaders may have trouble with) might be delivered as an alternativeto a frames-based style sheet.
Conducting searches using XML
In addition, the utilization of concepts in many ways can be usedto mimic the functionality of a relational database. Quicker,more efficient searching can be done in XML. Consider the commonproblem of file summaries in result lists. Summaries may be simplythe title of the file, or an algorithmically generated summary,which may be indecipherable.
By delimiting searches via concepts (e.g., "Show me all documentswith the concept of USER INTERFACES"), result listsshrink and search accuracy grows. Indeed, human-written summaries,such as the one in our above example, can be used to populateresult lists with verbose, grammatically correct, and pertinent documentsummaries.
With a well-defined XML tag language, users can find more relevantinformation much more quickly; decreasing time wasted wading throughdozens of hits. Shared XML tag languages enable standardization-- indeed, this has been done in both the academic chemistry andmathematics communities to some extent.
Flat-keyword searching (noncontextual) can never compete withconcept searching (contextual) in terms of accuracy -- however,combining both methods in a search engine can provide agood bridge between the past and the future, and accommodate usersof all backgrounds and philosophies.
XML is a fast-developing technology with great potential for producingaccessible Web sites. The use of style sheets allows the presentationof the same information in many different ways.
Moving a site toward improved accessibility- José Luis Pardos
Concluding remarks - Mike Burks
Current state of accessibility
Future of accessibility