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Re: multimedia accessibility a specialist skillset?

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From: wendy constantine
Date: Dec 16, 2006 10:30AM


Thank you all for your very thoughtful responses. Within the museum
community, I am finding that very few institutions have an internal
policy to mandate accessibility in multimedia, and only some require
HTML-based accessibility (as it is easy to verify automatically).
Half of the museums I surveyed receive federal funding for multimedia
development. Yet, captions and transcripts for video are infrequently
available and Flash is becoming the most popular tool for educational
media in this industry. At the advice of their developers, text-only
versions are built to accommodate legal accessibility requirements,
and the Flash/video/audio components are rarely altered to comply.

As a flash developer, I can see the tremendous opportunity (and
responsibility) Flash provides if directed appropriately. Very few
developers have been willing to embrace this creative challenge. As
for video and audio formats, providing open (or closed) captions for
web media is not particularly difficult, and aids viewers for whom
English is not their first language, do not have headphones or
speakers, as well as those with hearing loss.

I do realize that my vision for multimedia accessibility is perhaps
idealist and academic, somewhat removed from the realities that
museums (and other industries) face. Yet I would have to argue that
technology in the future will increasingly be driven by user needs
and desires. The ability to provide content in any modality and
format of presentation, for use on multiple device types, will
largely become the users' choice and not the developer/publisher of
the content. In essence, does this shift from fixed to flexible
content ring true to any of you, particularly in regards to
accessibility?

Wendy Constantine



On Dec 14, 2006, at 2:00 PM, <EMAIL REMOVED> wrote:

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> Today's Topics:
>
> 1. Re: multimedia accessibility a specialist skillset?
> (Spruill Kevin)
> 2. Re: multimedia accessibility a specialist skillset?
> (Tim Harshbarger)
> 3. President of NFB says don't change currency (Karl Groves)
> 4. Re: multimedia accessibility a specialist skillset?
> (John Foliot - Stanford Online Accessibility Program)
>
> From: "Spruill Kevin" < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
> Date: December 13, 2006 4:11:58 PM EST
> To: "WebAIM Discussion List" < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
> Subject: Re: [WebAIM] multimedia accessibility a specialist skillset?
> Reply-To: WebAIM Discussion List < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
>
>
> Wendy et al,
>
> First, I second that motion (and emotion) - but also recognize that
> I'm
> in the minority among developers and designers. Not because all are
> "lazy" (easy w/ the blanket statements out there folks), but more
> often
> because no one has taught them how, let alone why.
>
> This reality will not change until that fundamental shift is made
> in the
> education/creation/empowerment of new developers and designers... Come
> on, think about it - it's taken how long for Usability to become a
> consideration... And even now a lot of times it is lacking in scope
> and
> consideration (as noted by the other commentors seminar experience).
>
> 'Course, the flip side is that the resulting specialization can be an
> economic boon for developers such as myself at times. I'd much
> rather be
> out of work because there was no need for "specialists" though.
>
> Just my rambling $.02 - Good thesis topic by the way.
>
>
> Kevin Spruill
> IT Specialist
> Information Resources Accessibility Program
> OS:CIO:ES:BI:CS:IRAP:IT
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: wendy constantine [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ]
> Sent: Tuesday, December 12, 2006 11:40 PM
> To: <EMAIL REMOVED>
> Subject: [WebAIM] multimedia accessibility a specialist skillset?
>
> Is the development of accessible rich media including flash, video and
> audio appropriately considered a specialist skillset? I've been
> conducting research for a thesis in multimedia accessibility for
> online
> museum education, and I am increasingly frustrated by the reasons
> developers give for not making an accessible digital product.
>
> The reason I expected to hear is that clients don't require it. Cost,
> time, tools and knowledge are the other common barriers, in that
> order.
>
> If one approaches accessibility from a universal design perspective,
> meaning conceiving of the design of the product to meet the needs of
> various audiences, the time and cost of accessibility can be
> minimized,
> in my perspective. I have yet to find a developer that will second
> that
> notion, however.
>
> As for tools, captioning tools for video and even flash video are
> freely
> available. The availability of a transcript (audio/video descriptions
> aside) would be the main barrier to producing captions cost
> effectively.
> And there are tools to help with just that.
> Captioning long segments of video can be time-consuming, yet I would
> have to question the reasoning behind delivering long segments of
> video
> over the web.
>
> If anyone has examples of tools and/or services for captioning, please
> do suggest them. I would very much like to present some solutions to
> these common barriers.
>
> Flash has also come a long way in providing accessibility built
> into the
> development process. It won't think for you, but Flash can enable
> accessibility today in ways most developers do not realize. As Bob
> Reagan has so eloquently said, it is more a failure of the imagination
> than of the tools.
>
> Can anyone foresee a time when accessibility, even for rich media,
> will
> be considered standards based design and not a specialist activity?
>
> Thanks for your input!
> Wendy Constantine
>
>
>
>
>
> From: "Tim Harshbarger" < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
> Date: December 14, 2006 8:09:55 AM EST
> To: "WebAIM Discussion List" < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
> Subject: Re: [WebAIM] multimedia accessibility a specialist skillset?
> Reply-To: WebAIM Discussion List < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
>
>
> I am not so certain that the most important issue with developing
> accessible technology has to do with gaining the knowledge or skills
> necessary to develop accessible technology.
>
> There are plenty of good resources (like WebAIM) for learning how to
> create accessible sites or applications. Most of the techniques
> are not
> even that difficult to do once one knows the technique. There are
> some
> very challenging accessibility issues, but with some creativity,
> access
> to users with disabilities, and a desire to create an interface that
> really works for the users, most can be resolved satisfactorily.
>
> I think most of the time the issue that still creates the most
> problems
> is the perception that "we don't have any users with disabilities" or
> "people using screen readers don't use our site." I find if I can get
> people beyond this point to understand the real impact of
> accessibility,
> the accessibility issues are not any more challenging than any other
> technical issues that need to be resolved in order to create a good
> quality site or application.
>
> One thing to remember about professional developers is that they do
> not
> create applications or sites in a vacuum. Developers create
> applications and sites at the request of others. While it is
> helpful if
> the developers embrace accessibility, I think it might be more
> important
> that the people requesting the application or site want the product to
> be accessible.
>
> Tim
>
>
>
>
> From: "Karl Groves" < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
> Date: December 14, 2006 11:00:59 AM EST
> To: "'WebAIM Discussion List'" < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
> Subject: [WebAIM] President of NFB says don't change currency
> Reply-To: <EMAIL REMOVED> , WebAIM Discussion List
> < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
>
>
> I just came across this opinion article written by the President of
> the NFB.
> Just thought I'd pass it along.
> Says "We do not need such a dramatic change to accommodate us."
> http://news.yahoo.com/s/usatoday/20061214/cm_usatoday/dontchangeforus
>
> Karl L. Groves
> User-Centered Design, Inc.
> Office: 703-729-0998
> Mobile: 443-889-8763
> E-Mail: <EMAIL REMOVED>
> Web: http://www.user-centereddesign.com
>
>
>
>
>
> From: "John Foliot - Stanford Online Accessibility Program"
> < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
> Date: December 14, 2006 11:58:42 AM EST
> To: "'WebAIM Discussion List'" < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
> Subject: Re: [WebAIM] multimedia accessibility a specialist skillset?
> Reply-To: WebAIM Discussion List < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
>
>
> Tim Harshbarger wrote:
>>
>> I think most of the time the issue that still creates the most
>> problems is the perception that "we don't have any users with
>> disabilities" or "people using screen readers don't use our site." I
>> find if I can get people beyond this point to understand the real
>> impact of accessibility, the accessibility issues are not any more
>> challenging than any other technical issues that need to be resolved
>> in order to create a good quality site or application.
>
> I would have to agree with Tim here whole-heartedly. In my current
> position
> roughly half my time is spent in "outreach and education", helping
> people
> understand the entire ramifications of what "accessible web design"
> really
> means, and why it should matter to them. Having been involved in
> the web
> accessibility field for quite some time now, I am happy to see that
> the
> over-all awareness and general understanding of many of the issues
> has grown
> exponentially - people "get it" now, although they sometimes don't
> understand how it can benefit them entirely. To echo John Brandt,
> for some
> it is simply a legal requirement, but even then, I am seeing an
> understanding and agreement as to *why* it is a legal requirement.
> Then
> when I layer on the social, business and technological reasons why
> accessible design is important, most people are sold. (Disclaimer -
> in my
> former life I *was* a salesman <grin>)
>
> However, at the same time, there still exists a need to help
> developers
> beyond the initial awareness phase. Tim is right, once you learn and
> understand, continuing in that track is relatively easy. But oft time
> getting into that track requires additional experience and
> expertise, which
> currently is still in short supply. So to bring this back to one
> of the
> initial questions in the thread: Wendy asked, "Is the development of
> accessible rich media including flash, video
> and audio appropriately considered a specialist skillset?" I would
> have to
> say that in December, 2006, yes, the numbers would suggest that it
> is still
> a specialist skillset, and that it may remain that way for a fair time
> still.
>
> I believe that at some levels, enterprise class web-development
> will always
> remain a specialist skillset, as is the writing of screen plays,
> working in
> the field of microbiology, or being a Class "A" auto-mechanic. I
> think a
> better question to be asking is: "Will non-specialist tools for
> general
> on-line content creation evolve to incorporate features to address
> accessibility requirements?" coupled with "Will non-specialist
> creators
> adopt these tools and practices?". Many of the tools have, or are,
> getting
> much more sophisticated in this regard, and I would single out
> Adobe (as
> well as the tools from the former macromedia) as one company who have
> embraced these goals from both the legal requirement *and* desire
> to "do the
> right thing" perspective. (And in fairness, there are others - IBM is
> another company who are "in") But as these tools evolve, Tim's
> point of
> making people aware of the issues, coupled with teaching them how the
> emerging tools facilitate these goals will remain our biggest
> challenge.
>
> Just another $0.02
>
> JF
>
>
>
>
>