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Re: Re: Teaching Web Accessibility to Disabled Students


From: Terence de Giere
Date: Nov 18, 2003 9:09PM

Kynn ---

I was talking to a representative from SSB Technologies in San Francisco
a couple of years ago, and they were grappling with making their
accessibility testing software accessible and usable to disabled users.
Some of the tests, such as visual contrast etc., could not be performed
by blind users. I do not know how they finally implemented their ideas
but they were toying with the idea of allowing the program to segregate
certain tests that could not be performed by certain users, so they
could perform all the tests they could do, but then be informed that
someone else, for example a sighted person, would be needed to verify
the remaining tests. If the information is not in ASCII text code like
HTML or CSS, it may be difficult for some users to experience it unless
testing software can make it 'visible' in an alternate sense.

A blind user could surely add ALT text and LONGDESC to a page, but could
not write the text themselves. And although it might be a bit difficult,
a blind user could get information on color codes in HTML or CSS and
using simple calculations or tables of data (e.g., #ccccff corresponds
to a light blue), figure out whether color contrast or the combination
of colors in a page might not be sufficient. A color-blind user might be
able to evaluate color problems to some extent, but only for that type
of color blindness they have. If they can read code, a student might
notice that red and green text is used to distinguish information on a
page, but no other means was used to distinguish it.

A deaf or hearing-impaired user may not be able to make a transcription
of an audio track, and would be in an analogus situation.

I would suggest that for tests they cannot run entirely by themselves,
disabled students partner with someone else on the course that provides
the missing sense or facility, and this might also provide more insight
for the other course participants. An interesting test might be to
provide a photograph, and have each person in the class separately
provide an ALT text description and a LONGDESC description. Unsighted
users, who could not generate this text themselves could then evaluate
the results, and vote on which version was most interesting or most
useful to them, and then use that text in an exercise putting it in the
Web page. This might also foster a sense of cooperation with Web
developers who, as a group, we know tend to be a bit blank and uncaring
concerning accessibility.

Someday there may be testing software that has sufficient artificial
intelligence and analytical power to accurately extract text from audio,
or descriptions from pictures, but another human brain and its attached
sensory apparatus is what we are stuck with now.

Terence de Giere

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