WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

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RE: Barriers to accessibility


From: Cyndi Rowland
Date: May 18, 2000 4:46AM

You provided some great material to digest. I kind of like the way
you reorganized the barriers. It makes sense to me. Thanks - Cyndi

>I would like to take a moment and comment on your short summary. I
>apologize if my comments reflect my lack of time to spend with the issues in
>Number 1
>First, I would be careful to define who we mean when we say "Institutions"
>Who is the institution? Is it the administration, the IT specialists, the
>library and media folks or the webmasters? I think one major problem with
>institutional coordination is that we often do not have a clear definition
>of who at a given institution is responsible for coordinating web efforts.
>Is it a group of administrators who know very little about technical issues,
>a group of technicians who understand little about institutional missions,
>some other group or a combination?
>Number 2
>As a result of number one, we end up with number 2. The sheer number of web
>designers makes it very difficult to direct any sustainable coordinated
>Number 3
>I think number 3 deals with why web designers don't make changes. Instead,
>we should focus on if the "Institution" (whomever we decide this is) has
>the responsibility to raise the level of awareness, provide the training to
>help web developers gain the skills and provide motivations for them to rise
>to the level of accessibility. My hypotheses is that most institutions
>don't do any of these as it relates to accessibility or even in web design
>in general. Might there also be a lack of awareness not only on the part of
>the designers but with the institutution itself.
>Number 4
>I think this is an important impediment a universities success with regard
>to web development. We employ a high number of students for web design and
>pay scales are so low in education for full time webmasters that we often
>lose them to industry.
>Number 5
>I don't know quite what you mean by adaptive equipment.
>I know I visited a state institution for blind a year ago and was appalled
>to see that they were using two year old browsers. The reason they had not
>upgraded is that the administration did not understand that newer browsers
>would significantly improve their access to accessible materials and it
>puzzled me why the system administrators responsible for the software were
>not more aware of such a simple issue. Again this may point to a general
>lack of awareness institution wide. Is old adaptive equipment because of
>budget restraints, awareness problems, time contraints (overworked technical
>specialists), laziness, etc?
>Number 6
>Not sure how this relates to the idea of institutional coordination.
>Overall my barriers would be:
>1. The decentralized or fragmented environment most insititutions face with
>regard to web development.
>2. The lack of a centralized plan and policies to help guide the
>institutions web efforts.
>3. The lack of awareness institution wide.
>4. The lack of resources including monetary and leadership resources to
>properly address the issue (developing a plan, policies, and overseeing
>their implementation).
>5. The lack of a perceived need to even worry about the issue.
>I threw these out really quickly so they open for discussion.
>Thank you for creating the forum for dialogue.
>Tim G. Smith

Cyndi Rowland, Ph.D.
Director, Collaborative Early Childhood Special Education Program
Center for Persons with Disabilities
6800 University Blvd.
Utah State University
Logan, Utah 84322-6800
(435) 797-3381
FAX (435) 797-2044