WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

E-mail List Archives

Re: Describing accessibility of places Introduction


From: Bourne, Sarah (ITD)
Date: Nov 13, 2015 8:29AM

This is an interesting and challenging area to work on, Chaals.

The accessibility of places actually covers a lot more than just, "Can a wheelchair get in the front door?" Just looking at the issues for people using wheelchairs, they would want to know if they could also get to and use a table or service counter. In other cases, blind people might like to know if the elevators have audible announcements and Braille button labels.

Here in Massachusetts, we have an entire state agency devoted to setting and enforcing regulations "to make public buildings accessible to, functional for, and safe for use by persons with disabilities." The regulations cover things from counter height to door weight and hardware to aisle widths etc., etc., etc. Without doing the research, I'm willing to bet they're based on the requirements of the US Access Board, so there would be a lot of commonality in the US. If you print them all out, they could actually weigh more than I do, but it could be taken as the outside limit of what a vocabulary would require, at least in terms of access compliance. I can see why you would want to start small. But you would want the schema to support the full range for those willing and capable of reporting on it.

And there are other things a venue could be providing that go beyond that that they would actually want to brag about, such as using "beacons" in museums for wayfinding and providing additional information. I would expect reporting on "features" like this to more accurate.

Maybe this is an Internet of Things problem, and facilities should be able to report on themselves. Rather than people trying to manually provide this metadata, they could just call in the API. (I wish I lived in the future!)

Sarah E. Bourne
Director of IT Accessibility, MassIT
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
1 Ashburton Pl. rm 1601 Boston MA 02108