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Now a Landmark Favelet (Posted July 4, 2012)

Suzanne Taylor (Pearson Learning) has added a Landmarks favelet that tests for and marks up all ARIA landmarks and also all HTML 5 landmarks. This favelet checks for the content used for aria-labelleledby and even whether that attribute is properly spelled (not aria-labeledby)!

These favelets were originally built from the functions available in the Web Accessibility Toolbar. I do a lot of manual review of web pages and these favelets were designed to simplify that process and make it more thorough.

So please check out the latest versions of Jim's favelets, http://jimthatcher.com/favelets.

The favelets have been improved (Posted October 30, 2011)

With Suzanne Taylor's (Pearson Learning) coding and interest, the favelets that I posted here in 2009 have been improved and now are available as a toolbar for Firefox.

These were originally built from the functions available in the Web Accessibility Toolbar. I do a lot of manual review of web pages and these favelets were designed to simplify that process and make it more thorough.

Here is a quick summary of some of the most important favelets.

  • There are three image favelets because alt-text for images depends on how the image is used and there are three distinct cases: active images (links, buttons, etc.), large images (probably information bearing) and small images (probably used for formatting).
  • A new favelet checks for and highlights all instances of ARIA markup.
  • Another new favelet provides a tool for checking font sizes that we need when looking at contrast requirements (a contrast ratio of 3:1 is OK for 18 point or 14 point bold text).
  • The forms favelet checks for label tags, title attributes and fieldset/legend markup.
  • The skip links favelet highlights all in-page anchors and provides visual information as to whether or not the skip link will work properly.

So please check out the latest versions of Jim's favelets, http://jimthatcher.com/favelets.

Comment on the DOJ ANPRM (Posted January 11, 2011)

I will submit this comment in response to the US Justice Department request for comments on the details of the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to the web.

The Department has long held that the ADA applied to the web but there were no technical specifications of what that meant. Just as there are details about curb-cut slopes, door widths and switch heights, so the DOJ plans specifications of what it means for web sites to be accessible.

Skip link information updated (Posted June 19, 2009)

Web developers can do a lot to facilitate the process of navigating a web page with the keyboard - without a mouse. That is the subject of this article - which is updated from the 2004 version. You should read here to understand what "skip navigation" is all about, what are the alternatives and how are federal sites doing in terms of the related provision of the Section 508 Web Accessibility Standards 1194.22(o), "A method shall be provided that permits users to skip repetitive navigation links."

Whitehouse.Gov Accessibility: Update (Posted June 11, 2009)

I have updated the report on the Accessibility of Whitehouse.gov because there have been significant improvements there. It is gratifying and encouraging. Specifically, I think it is fair to say that the major issues reported in that news item have been fixed. Furthermore, in the arena of machine detectable errors detected in a depth one scan, the White House site has gone from an average of three errors per page to an average on one per page in less than two months. Congratulations!

This is especially important because, as I have said several times, I think the administration web sites should be models of accessibility. The White House web team has been responsive and engaged. The bad news is that none of the other contacts have been responsive. The contact I had for MakingHomeAffordable.gov responded telling me that my email had been forwarded to the 508 specialist. No response on my reports about Recovery.gov or Data.gov.

Accessibility of Data.gov (Posted May 24, 2009)

This is the fourth in a series of reports on the accessibility of Obama Administration web sites. I believe that, during the campaign, when then candidate Obama said he wanted a campaign accessible to all, he meant it. Had he known how difficult it was for some people with disabilities to access his campaign web site, he would have insisted it be fixed. Now I think the same for the new administration web sites. They must be, in my opinion, models of accessibility.

Perhaps the biggest problem is this: web developers say sure they know about web accessibility and when told to get it right - they say "yes sir!" There are tens of thousands of web developers and very few experts in accessibility. Perhaps these reports can help developers of other government websites to make their products more accessible to people with disabilities. In other words these reports can supplement the Course here on Section 508 Web Accessibility with real life examples of government websites.

This report is different than the other three on Whitehouse.gov, Recovery.gov, and MakingHomeAffordable.gov. Here I am using the same format for the report that I use when I do accessibility evaluations for clients in my consulting business. Well not exactly because there I use Word, here I'm using HTML.

Please read more about the Accessibility of Data.gov.

MakingHomeAffordable.gov (Posted May 21, 2009)

MakingHomeAffordable.gov is a fairly simple site. It should be easy to use for people with disabilities, to access information and interact with the site. The suggestions provided here will make that happen. Without following these suggestions, people with disabilities will have serious difficulty interacting with the site. The following are the areas that need atention.

  • Text alternatives. There are a couple of minor errors
  • In page navigation. The site is seriously deficient in prividing headings navigation and skip links.
  • keyboard. Keyboard users can not use the video player (the video well captioned though).
  • Reading order. There is one instance of confusing reading order and the lightbox panels for the video player and exiting the site - are not accessible.
  • Contrast. The color contrast between foreground text and background is generally good with the exception of the footer text.
  • Form labels. The forms are not adequately labeled.

Please read the details about accessibiliy of MakingHomeAffordable.gov.

A Postscript on Recovery.gov (Posted May 2, 2009)

Having signed up for Google Alerts for "recovery.gov accessibility," today I found what seems to be a blog about government blogs, "To be in America." And there I found this:

Q: Is Recovery.gov accessible for people for with disabilities?
A: Recovery.gov complies with all of the automatic checkpoints of the Section 508 Accessibility Guidelines, and has been manually verified for nearly all of the manual checkpoints.

This compliance has been tested using Watchfire WebXACT program. Because Recovery.gov uses dynamically generated Web pages, it is not possible to test literally every page. However, each dynamically generated output style can be tested. We plan to continue to upgrade Recovery.gov's accessibility for individuals with disabilities in forthcoming updates.

This is worse than disappointing. It is something like a bluff. What is especially distressing is that neither Watchfire nor WebXACT exist any more - and they have been off the air since soon after IBM's purchase of Watchfire around June of 2007; it seems that WebXACT was discontinued February 1, 2008. So how then could Recovery.gov have been tested with WebXACT? In my report on Recovery.gov, the home page has two machine detectable errors but many other very serious accessibility road blocks.. Those two errors are technically not violations of the "Section 508 Accssibity Guidelines", but the depth 1 scan of Recovery.gov turned up 69 errors that are unequivocal violations of the the Section 508 Accessibility Standards, 1194.22(a) and 1194.22(n).

Accessibility at Recovery.gov (Posted April 30, 2009)

Continuing to look at Obama administration web sites, let's check out http://Recovery.gov, the web site set up by the administration to monitor and explain the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

It is disconcerting how serious the issues get. Although a testing tool only finds two errors (one very serious and one not so serious) there are many accessibility roadblocks that are detected by no automatic testing process. The errors we find on Recovery.gov are the kind that must be understood by web designers and developers. You have to think that your audience includes people with disabilities - how will they get this information; how will they navigate the site?

Read on about accessibility at Recovery.gov.

Accessibility at Whitehouse.gov (Posted April 21, 2009)

This is a note about the accessibility of WhiteHouse.gov. It may be the first in a series of notes about accessibility and administration web sites. This is not an audit of the site. Here I'm only going to talk about in-page navigation on the home page. That is a long way from an audit or even an assessment - which is what I usually do as a consultant.

I did run a quick scan (think audit) of http://WhiteHouse.gov including the home page and all WhiteHouse.gov pages linked to the home page. I used Worldspace from Deque and I restricted the analysis to only look for machine detectable errors - not warnings, not potential errors; only certain errors, like missing alt-text or missing labels on forms. The result was 276 errors on 90 pages, an average of a little over 3 serious machine detectable errors per page.

None of the problems I'll discuss here will be detected by any testing tool. And these too are serious errors. Read on about accessibility at Whitehouse.gov.

 

 

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