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Re: webboard

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From: Terence de Giere
Date: Mar 25, 2003 12:58PM


Just a quick look at the demo of this product at
http://demo.webboard.com/
indicates some accessibility problems.

They do seem to have some accessibility in mind, there are some form
labels with explicit associations to their form controls, but other
controls lack labels. Alternate text is missing on some images such as
format only images but alternate text for critical images is excellent.
The interface may be confusing in a non visual mode or with a text
browser. The help window does not work if JavaScript is not available.
Typefaces are smaller than many people can read easily, and appear to be
in absolute sizes cannot be changed in Internet Explorer unless the user
knows to activate accessibility settings. It is a pleasing design but
the contrast of the interface is a bit low in places. The tables, which
here are both used for format and data do not use header cells for
identifying the columns of information (e.g., the columns 'Conference',
'Status', 'Topics', 'Messages', 'Last Post'). The top of the data table
'Conferences' is actually a separate table, rather than a caption for
the information below.

If Cascading Style Sheets are not rendered, the interface is more
difficult to figure out visually because the tables displaying data do
not show any grid making it difficult to scan accross the page. Most of
the visual look as far as color coding various pieces of information via
background color are not distinguished when CSS is not rendered.

There are some other things as well but this is just a cursory look at
the home page of the demo. As is, WebBoard would not pass the Access
Board Section 508 rules or WAI Priority 1, although from a purely
technical viewpoint, WebBoard seems to have taken care of a lot of major
potential accessibility problems and just slipped up on some details,
some of which appear to be related to maintaining visual format. One
should consider the assistive technology expected to be used, newer
technology would be best here. I did not experience the functionality
with a screen reader etc., which might show up some other quirks. If you
have someone using assistive technology available, it might be
productive to have them try the demo and find out what happens. It may
be possible that in your situation, the application might work, but
might require some training for users of assistive technolgy to navigate
the interface.

Terence de Giere
<EMAIL REMOVED>

---------------------

Carol Foster wrote:

Does anyone have any experience with webboard chat, at
http://www.webboard.com ?
If so, what do you think? Any problems with accessibility (or anything
else)?

Thanks,
Carol

--
Carol Foster, Web Developer
Internet Publishing Group, Information Technology Services
University of Massachusetts, President's Office
phone: (413) 587-2130
fax: (413) 587-2148
mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED>
http://www.umass-its.net/ipg





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