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Re: Teaching Web Accessibility to Disabled Students


From: Michael D. Roush
Date: Nov 18, 2003 7:34PM


Good to see your name show up again! I miss you being on a certain other
list we were on before.

I've been talking back and forth with a friend recently about the relative
benefits/drawbacks of using Flash elements in designing websites. One thing
I thought of during the whole thing was that even if Macromedia finally
accomplishes a method for making the results widely accessible, I think they
will have a very hard time making the production program accessible. And,
in my mind, the universality of the Web should go beyond simply receiving
content to producing content as well.

As to the specific instances you mention, I think that some sort of a
'chart' of 'contrasting colors' based on the web-safe palette would be a
very handy tool. In other words, a chart that allows the user to find or
enter a basic color (in hex, decimal, or by name) and be given a
corresponding short list of sufficiently-contrasting colors. I don't know
how much you talk about 'hex values', but it might bear emphasizing that a
color code with a lot of "FF"s or "CC"s will be a very light color and
contrast well with a color with a lot of "00"s or "33"s. The very concepts
of 'red' 'green' and 'blue' will likely be lost on someone who is blind from
birth, but it may make more sense put in terms of quantities like these.
Would an online look-up chart be useful here?

As far as the image part goes, think of it from the aspect of the blind user
inserting an image into a website of his own design. The specific exercises
you mention seem to be along the line of "Here is bad design. How would you
fix it?" If you don't do something like has already been suggested and give
a separate verbal description of the image for the user to work with, how
about an alternative exercise more along the line of "Here is what we
have.... a paragraph about Ptolemy II and a picture of his tomb, called
'ptol-tomb.jpg'. Build an accessible html paragraph including the text and
the picture right-aligned at the top of the paragraph."

I'm curious, what tools do disabled web designers use to produce pages?
WYSIWYG editors could present some very difficult problems for those with
visual and motor impairments, I would think.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Kynn Bartlett" < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
Sent: Monday, November 17, 2003 11:33 PM
Subject: Teaching Web Accessibility to Disabled Students

> Hi everyone,
> As you probably know, I teach online classes in Web accessibility
> through IWA-HWG (formerly HTML Writers Guild)'s eClasses program.
> "D201: Accessible Web Design" is the intro class, and has been taught
> pretty much continuously since 1998.
> During that time I've had a number of blind students (as well as
> students with other disabilities), and I've made accommodations for
> them in the assignments. It's not too hard to do, because the class
> is designed to introduce the basics, and not necessarily get into
> the nitty-gritty -- so most of the class assignments are exploratory
> in nature. The exercise from Week Three -- which is posted as a
> "free sample lesson" -- is a good example of this:
> http://access.idyllmtn.com/d201/sample/hands-on.html
> It's not hard to adapt the course material in a case like that.
> However, the newer course, D202: Web Accessibility Techniques, is a
> more technically rigorous class, and includes specific exercises
> for the students to complete. For example, "Take this broken page
> which doesn't have ALT text, and provide the appropriate ALT (and
> LONGDESC if necessary)."
> Or, "Here's a page with crummy color contrast. How would you fix
> it?" The students complete these exercises and upload them for grading.
> Now, the question here is "how do I make such a course accessible to
> a student who can't see the images or colors?" The whole purpose of
> the course is to give hands-on experience in designing accessible
> Web sites -- but if you are disabled, you may not actually be able
> to "fix" a broken site. (If you could, it would likely be
> accessible-by-definition.)
> I'd like to hear some advice on what to do in this specific
> situation, as well as general comments on the issue of teaching
> accessible Web design to students who may themselves be unable to
> perceive, comprehend, or use the course material.
> NOTE: In general, the course itself is designed to be accessible;
> it is only the exercises which are lacking in accessibility. That,
> and an external reading assignment on colo(u)r contrast, which
> uses color images to illustrate colorblindness.
> Thanks in advance,
> --Kynn
> --
> Kynn Bartlett < <EMAIL REMOVED> > http://kynn.com
> Chief Technologist, Idyll Mountain http://idyllmtn.com
> Shock & Awe Blog http://shock-awe.info
> Author, CSS in 24 Hours http://cssin24hours.com
> Inland Anti-Empire Blog http://inlandantiempire.org
> ----
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