WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

Newsletter Archives - August 2004


This newsletter is maintained here for archival purposes. The content presented here may be outdated, may contain out-of-date links, and may not represent current best practices or represent the opinion and recommendations of WebAIM. For up-to-date information, please refer to the WebAIM web site.

During the summer months, things tend to slow down as we prepare for fall. Many of us here at WebAIM have taken time to travel, visit family, and enjoy the wonderful outdoors here in Utah. We'd also like to congratulate two members of the WebAIM team, Mike Lyman and Jon Whiting, for the new babies in their families.

Featured Articles

Cognitive Disabilities Part 1: We Still Know Too Little, and We Do Even Less

Author: Paul Bohman (WebAIM)

Cognitive disabilities are the least understood and least discussed type of disability among Web developers. As a result, developers rarely design Web content to be accessible to people with cognitive disabilities. This article presents a list of recommendations for Web developers. The list is not definitive nor comprehensive, because, for the most part, the available research does not permit such certainty. The recommendations are presented as a basis for discussion and further research. Read the full article: Cognitive Disabilities Part 1

Cognitive Disabilities Part 2: Conceptualizing Design Considerations

Author: Cyndi Rowland (WebAIM)

It is an unfortunate fact that the Web accessibility community has struggled for some time to come to a consensus on guidelines that can be applied to Web content for individuals with cognitive disabilities. Many authors propose specific, commonsense, considerations while others wait for more definitive research. At WebAIM, we believe that promoting a dialogue on this important issue will be helpful. In the article above, Paul Bohman published a list of tentative recommendations that could be included in design guidelines. Responses from the field will help refine these technical recommendations. Another way to look at conceptualizing design considerations is from a human factors approach.
Read the full article: Cognitive Disabilities Part 2

On Target Tip

Microsoft Study of Accessible Technology in the United States

Microsoft commissioned a study to look at accessible technology in the United States and understand how it is being used today. The study, conducted by Forrester Research, was completed in two phases. The first phase looks at the market for accessible technologies and how the wide range of abilities can impact computer usage. Phase two of the study delves into awareness of accessible technologies, how they are used, and how people might use them in the future.

Phase two of the study was recently released and contains summaries of phase one plus new findings from the completed study. Some of the key findings show that (1) 57% of computer users are likely or very likely to benefit from the use of accessible technology and (2) 44% of computer users use some form of accessible technology.

WebCT, accessibility, usability and the disabled student

Evergreen Valley College in San Jose, CA has put together a module that discusses the accessibility of features and tools used with or within WebCT. It is found in the course titled "Designing Accessible Web-based Courses." The course also includes an introduction to accessibility, how to make your Web site accessible, and a list of Web site review tools.

The module on WebCT is a great resource for those that are using WebCT to create online classes. The module covers the limitations and barriers within WebCT as well as possible solutions and tips for overcoming some of the inaccessible features of WebCT. Most useful is a table showing the tool or feature in WebCT, observations about the accessibility or lack there of, and recommendations to overcome possible barriers or limitations. The author's comments and tips refer to version 3.x of WebCT.

On Target Resources

MathPlayer 2.0 by Design Science

Design Science just released version 2.0 of its free MathPlayer mathematics display engine for Microsoft's Internet Explorer 6.0 Web browser. MathPlayer enables Internet Explorer to display, and now speak, mathematical notation embedded in HTML and XHTML Web pages using MathML. Its new features include math-to-speech technology, compatibility with screen reader software used by the visually impaired to read Web pages, increased cross-browser compatibility via XHTML support, and improved mathematical formatting.

aDesigner from IBM

IBM recently released aDesigner, a disability simulator to help Web designers design accessible Web pages. The tool helps designers create accessible and usable sites for persons with visual impairments by enabling them to change font size, look at the appropriateness of alt text, view color contrast and color blindness simulations, and verify page navigation links. aDesigner is a free download available for the Windows 2000 and XP operating system.