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1 Web Accessibility: Will WCAG 2.0 Better Meet Todays Challenges? Brian Kelly UK Web Focus UKOLN University of Bath UK Jenny Craven.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Web Accessibility: Will WCAG 2.0 Better Meet Todays Challenges? Brian Kelly UK Web Focus UKOLN University of Bath UK Jenny Craven."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Web Accessibility: Will WCAG 2.0 Better Meet Todays Challenges? Brian Kelly UK Web Focus UKOLN University of Bath UK Jenny Craven CERLIM Manchester Metropolitan University UK

2 2 About Us Brian Kelly: Adviser on Web issues to UK Universities Active in Web since January 1993 Attended opening WAI meeting Jenny Craven: Researcher in CERLIM, Manchester Met. University Project work includes: NoVa (Non-Visual Access to the digital library) project to investigate usability of \Web-based resources by people witn visual impairments REVIEL (REsources for Visually Impaired users of the Electronic Library) project which explored the accessibility of library OPACs & other electronic library services Supporting study for DISinHE which investigated awareness and use of accessibility design standards in UK higher education

3 3 Our Aims We are: Supporters of WAI and its activities Acknowledge the work WAI has done in raising the importance of Web accessibility worldwide Informed by our user communities of challenges and issues faced in implementing WAI guidelines In this panel session we will: Report on experiences of our user communities Highlight concerns which have been expressed Our aim is to: Share these concerns See if WCAG 2.0 addresses our concerns Facilitate open discussion Note – we may mention common misconceptions about WAI

4 4 Contents Brian Kelly: Introduction What's Happening? Survey of UK University Home Pages Reports From Other Sectors Typical Problems Jenny Craven: Accessibility / Usability conflicts Design issues User issues What makes a Web site accessible and usable? Conclusions: thinking about accessibility and usability

5 5 UK University Home Pages In Sept 2003 survey of accessibility of 160+ UK University entry points carried out Used Bobby (to report on problems which an automated tool could spot) How many WAI AA pages were found? The survey found: Only four entry points complied with AA One was a JavaScripted page so isn't accessible The UK HE community is generally aware of and supportive of WAI issues, uses lists to discuss issues and share solutions (esp. in light of legislation introduced in Sept 2002). So why this low figure? What's Happening? See

6 6 Scottish Political Parties Survey of the accessibility of 8 parties standing in May 2003 Scottish Parliamentary elections carried out (by David & Martin Sloan) Four parties' home page failed Cynthia Says test and manual testing found that all have accessibility problems across the Web sites: missing ALT tags, contrasts, graphical navigation, poorly implemented frames, non-compliant HTML, PDF files, … A number of political parties pledged support for accessibility, the Web sites had been developed for the election and had a high profile. So why the poor findings? What's Happening? See

7 7 RNIB Web Site Bobby was used on 7 May 2003 to test the RNIB home page at Two priority 2 errors were found Is the RNIB home page really inaccessible? What's Happening? Similar findings have been reported for other high-profile accessibility organisations

8 8 The Context One University Web manager, following survey publication, said: "I too have been struggling with just how rigorously the WAI guidelines should be implemented … I certainly aspire to comply as full as I can with the WAI guidelines but …" Some guidelines are too theoretical I will have a pragmatic approach: Will use tables for positioning Will not associate form controls for search boxes Will not necessarily nest headers correctly … Concerns These are seen as WAI requirements. Are they?

9 9 Specific Problems Typical problems reported by Bobby's automated testing: Missing ALT text Missing DOCTYPEs Use of absolute positioning Repeated link phrases The justifications for these requirements is well-known They could be fixed easily for an entry point But: What about workflow issues What about tools used today Are there usability issues? Concerns

10 10 MS Office Case Study A typical organisation (including universities): Has significant investment in Microsoft Office products Has conservative users who typically won't appreciate new tools being forced on them In MS Word / PowerPoint: How many users will know how to add ALT text to images? How many would use this option if they knew about it? Typical Problems If PowerPoint presentations are held on the Web primarily for file delivery with little expectation of use by others should (a) effort be spend on ALT tags, (b) do as at present or (c) remove files from Web site?

11 11 Using A Text Editor Many experienced Web authors / software developers may use a text editor in preference to a HTML authoring tool (I use HTML-kit) This should be more usable these days (just create simple HTML elements, and leave formatting to a CSS file) But: Isn't it too difficult to maintain ids for cell elements in complex tables Isn't it worse to get ids wrong than not have them? Should the WAI guidelines be explicit on this point? How will users of text editors react? Should the WAI guidelines be explicit on this point? How will users of text editors react? Typical Problems

12 12 Large Web Sites A typical university Web site: Has devolved authorship Uses a wide range of technologies, applications, etc.) Has hundreds of thousands of Web resources Differing perceptions: Web teams would like to install centralised Content Management Systems to help apply consistent best practices Users typically don't like central service departments and want to manage their own resources, use their own favourite applications, etc. Typical Problems

13 13 WAI Compliance Levels Is it unreasonable to regard: WAI A = Good effort WAI AA = Even better WAI AAA = Top of the class But: Is this really the case? Aren't some of the AA and AAA requirements based on assumptions of how the Web will be in the future? Typical Problems

14 14 Too Theoretical? Are some WAI guidelines too theoretical? Typical Problems 13.2Provide metadata to add semantic information to pages and sites. [Priority 2] For example, use RDF ([RDF]) to indicate the document's author, the type of content, etc. Some questions How many use RDF today? Isn't RDF an unproven technology which is currently of research interest? Isn't this using WAI as a mechanism to promote a favoured W3C format? If I can't / won't do this, will other Priority 2 requirements be ignored?

15 15 Too Theoretical? Have some WAI techniques not being used sufficiently to expect widespread use? But longdescr not supported in widely used browsers There is little implementation experience: Should the file be text, HTML, … (it's not defined) How will the information be rendered? Should I provide navigation to the original document? What about the management of the content? If it's not widely used, can we implement a better solution (e.g. based on XLink) 1.1Provide a text equivalent for every non-text element (e.g., via "alt", "longdesc", or … Typical Problems

16 16 Best Practices Or Today's Practices? Does/should WAI: Act as an evangelist for emerging W3C technologies? Assume that the W3C philosophy is true ("by following these guidelines content developers can create pages that degrade gracefully …") Address real world concerns in an environment of broken browsers, commercially driven interests, proprietary formats, … XML CSS SMIL SVG RDF XML CSS SMIL SVG RDF G6Ensure that pages are accessible even when newer technologies.. not supported If I use SMIL, how do I dumb things down to HTML? Typical Problems

17 17 Cost Of Web Accessibility But doesn't: #2 ignores the workflow issues #2 ignores the documented costs of providing and maintaining metadata (an ALT tag is metadata) #3 ignores the real world difficulties of, say, deploying CSS MYTH #2: Accessible Web authoring is expensive and time-consuming MYTH #3: Web accessibility is too difficult for the average Web designer Wouldn't it be better to be open about the costs in order to gain acceptance? We don't pretend that safety in cars, providing fire safety in building, etc. is cheap. Typical Problems It is acknowledged that this is not from WAI

18 18 Cost Of Web Accessibility provides valuable advice on making Web sites accessible. But look at what it describes: 1.First, we're defining an absolute size (12px) for every. All browsers apply this style … 2.Then we include the odd-looking comment "/*/*/". Due to bugs in Netscape 4, everything between this comment and the following one will be ignored. That's right, all the following styles will only be applied in non-Netscape-4 browsers. 3.Immediately after the odd-looking comment, we include an empty rule "a {}". Opera 5 for Mac is buggy and ignores this rule (and only this rule). It applies everything else. p {font-size: 12px;} /*/*/a{} body p {font-size: x-small; voice-family: "\"}\""; voice-family: inherit; font-size: small;} html>body p {font-size: small;} /* */ …

19 19 Conclusions To conclude: Public sector bodies who want to provide accessible Web sites seem to find it difficult to do so, even on individual high-profile pages The WCAG 1.0 guidelines appear to promote little- deployed and emerging W3C technologies in additon to mature & well-supported features It appears to be difficult / expensive to produce richly functional & accessible e-learning resources Or is this taking the WAI WCAG guidelines too literally? Don't the guidelines do a good enough job in the majority of cases, and to highlight exceptional cases or esoteric aspects is to undermine the valuable work that WAI is doing (and provide a loophole for avoidance)?

20 20 Web Accessibility: Will WCAG 2.0 Better Meet Todays Challenges? Accessibility and Usability Jenny Craven, Research Associate, CERLIM With acknowledgements to David Sloan, DMAG and Neil Witts, TechDis for their input Contents Introduction Accessibility / Usability conflicts Design issues User issues What makes a Web site accessible and usable? Conclusions: thinking about accessibility and usability Contents Introduction Accessibility / Usability conflicts Design issues User issues What makes a Web site accessible and usable? Conclusions: thinking about accessibility and usability

21 21 Quotes about Web usability: you sighted people just go click click click and theres the answer – while Im still looking for the first …. link! It tells me that there is a text-only version, I tend to steer clear of them because they are often not as up to date as the graphical version I could tell it was a link, but I wasnt sure where I was going I often just click on text because I think it will be a link

22 22 Accessibility/usability conflicts Design Issues: Inappropriate or unhelpful alternative text for graphics, images etc – is photo enough? Is a literal description of every image always helpful? Inappropriate or unhelpful text for hypertext links – to click here or not to click here Language – accessibility and understanding: are they really the same thing? Interactive elements e.g. e-learning packages, quizzes – people behave in different ways.

23 23 To Click here or not to Click here

24 24 E-Learning Concerns I could use a real world alternative which provides an equivalent learning experience. This seems acceptable under UK SENDA legislation – but is it OK for the Web site to be inaccessible (to 3 rd parties) but to have an accessible course? If not, should I password protect the Web site (so it's equally inaccessible to everyone!)? Visualisation "I use a Flash animation of the HIV virus in my course. I've been told that it must be usable in a speaking / text browser. I've also been told that I must use open W3C technologies. What should I do?" Quizzes "I have online quizzes in which users must describe features in common in two photos. I've been told I must provide meaningful information in ALT tags. But this would give the answer away! What should I do?"

25 25 E-Learning Concerns How do we make this interactive exercise interactive? Can we design a single system which is accessible and as usable as this one? Won't it be difficult and expensive to do this?

26 26 Accessibility / usability conflicts User Issues: Parallel design vs Linear navigation… 200 links on one page. Does not follow a logical order Intelligibility of information in audio, e.g…. eResources – error sources, British Journal – British Hournal Different levels of user expertise. Different assistive technologies. Is it possible to design a web interface that suits the needs of everybody?

27 27 So, what makes a Web site accessible and usable? Meeting basic accessibility requirements, e.g. ALT Text? Appropriate language for links? Offer Text-Only sites e.g. Tesco Access? Bobby (or similar) approved? Meeting legal requirements? e.g. DDA, SENDA, 508? WAI compliance?

28 28 Text-Only issues Automatically generated Text-Only sites are only as accessible as the original. The same applies to hand coded Text-Only sites, but also have to be updated alongside the original – worries that they may not be kept up-to-date. Text-Only may conflict with the ethos of universal design.

29 29 Accessibility checker issues Automated Web accessibility checkers such as Bobby DO NOT guarantee accessibility. Belief that because an automated checker says its ok, then its accessible. Accessibility does not equal usability.

30 30 Logo issues

31 31 Logo issues Automated testing does not provide a comprehensive solution to accessibility. Changes to the website and/or to person responsible for the site my impact on accessibility – but the logo may remain. How do logos relate to legal issues? Is it safe to assume a site is DDA/SENDA (or equivalent) compliant because it displays a logo?

32 32 Legal Issues Who takes responsibility for implementing Web accessibility? From a legal perspective, how does WCAG 1.0 fit in with WCAG 2.0? If Governments adopt WCAG will they have to adjust their policies to fit in with changes? Will the legal systems of different countries come into conflict with WCAG? e.g. privacy laws differ, what about disability and web accessibility?

33 33 WAI issues WAI compliance does not guarantee accessibility for an individual. WAI are guidelines and therefore may be open to interpretation. Focussing on guidelines and checklists alone is not enough. If Plug-Ins etc need installing, will this conflict with WAI guidelines? Attempting to comply with AAA WAI recommendations may be too ambitious. How do the WAI guidelines help people understand further about accessibility and usabililty? i.e how and why

34 34 Thinking about Accessibility and Usability A Web site can comply with open standards. A Web site can pass all the automated accessibility checks. A Web site can appear to be accessible BUT An accessible Web site is not necessarily usable. The best way to test for usability is by involving the users themselves. Accessibility and usability is an evolving process, not a static one. This should be reflected in policies. So, how will WCAG meet todays challenges?

35 35 Unresolved Issues (1) Issues for general discussion: Policy issues – My institutions accessibility policy does not comply fully with the WAI guidelines, WCAG reflects US culture which is not appropriate for my organisation. User issues – I know it is possible to change the browser settings, but I dont know how to, my screen reader is an old version – but I cant afford to upgrade Awareness issues – not just how, but also why. Implementation issues - who is responsible for implementing the WAI guidelines? From a legal perspective, how does WCAG 1.0 fit in with WCAG 2.0? How will cultural and legal differences be resolved? Political issues – uncertainty, changing alliances etc.

36 36 Unresolved Issues (2) Issues for general discussion: Cost of implementing Web accessibility Tackling "low-hanging fruit" versus everything Accessibility of proprietary formats Too theoretical? Usability issues Value of logos …

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