I have just posted anew study of skip link techniques prompted by a discussion in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines working group. By its nature, this is in part a study of in-page or bookmark links and describes a fundamental flaw in such links when used from the keyboard with IE6. There is a new workaround for this bug that is easy and innocuous.

Also in the news section of this site, a newaccessibility evaluation tool called aDesigner, from IBM's Tokyo Research Lab, where IBM Home Page Reader was born.

Accessibility is a serious issue

Businesses and government agencies are increasingly faced with accessibility requirements. Some of those requirements arise from increased awareness of disabilities issues. Others stem from laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act or Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

The final Section 508 standards for accessible information technology were published by the Access Board in December of 2000 and they took effect June 25, 2001. That means that all electronic and information technology purchased by Federal agencies, or provided to the public by those agencies, must be accessible as measured by the Section 508 Standards.

This fact has a lot of companies concerned and agencies worried. But the issues are not as overwhelming as they might at first seem. With guidance and assistance a smooth transition to accessible information technology is possible.

I can help you and your organization

Now retired from IBM, I offer my services as a consultant to business and government on questions relating to disabilities and access to electronic and information technology. My primary expertise is software and Web accessibility but I work with a network of highly qualified consultants that can provide services in all areas of access to electronic and information technology.

I can evaluate your Web site for accessibility. With my report on your site's accessibility, your IT organization can correct high priority existing problems and plan for continued development of accessible content. Usually that report is enough, especially when coupled with the content of the Web Accessibility Course that I wrote for ITTATC, The Information Technology Technical Assistance and Training Center. I would be glad to provide training on web accessibility for your development team.

I have the background in assistive technology and accessibility. I understand the issues. I know the technology.

Section 508 web accessibility training

I team with Professor John Slatin of the Institute for Technology and Learning at the University of Texas at Austin to provide full day training on web accessibility focused on Section 508. The course is for web developers and other professionals involved in the development or management of your web presence. The training course provides a detailed overview of the Section 508 Web Accessibility standards together with a discussion of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) from the W3C. Students in this hands-on course will gain a working definition of accessibility, learning specific techniques for accessible design plus tools and techniques for evaluating accessibility.

In March, 2003 John Slatin and I joined with Jim Allan, webmaster and technologist of the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, to present a full day pre-conference workshop, Achieving Web Accessibility with Section 508, at the CSUN (California State University at Northridge) Conference of Technology for Persons with Disabilities. Back by popular demand, the workshop was updated and presented again at CSUN 2004, on March 16, 2004.

I have experience

The last 15 years of my 37 year IBM career were devoted to assistive technology and accessibility.

  • My work in this area began in 1984 with a research project called PCSAID, an audio access system for people who are blind.
  • IBM Special Needs Systems was formed to make PCSAID into a product and the product became IBM Screen Reader for DOS. IBM Special Needs Systems became the IBM Accessibility Center.
  • After Screen Reader DOS, I led the technical development of IBM Screen Reader/2 for OS/2, the first screen reader for the graphical user interface on the PC.
  • I was intimately involved in the development of IBM Home Page Reader.

Because of the increased emphasis on accessibility, I moved from IBM Research to the IBM Accessibility Center, (formerly Special Needs Systems), where my work focused more on accessibility and less on assistive technology. My accomplishments included:

  • Working with engineers from the Lotus corporation to ensure access to their Lotus Notes product.
  • Leading the development of IBM's policy and procedures for accessibility including the IBM Guidelines for Accessibility.

In 1998-99, I served as Vice-chair of the Electronic and Information Technology Access Advisory Committee impaneled by the Access Board to propose standards for Section 508.

For the Information Technology and Technical Assistance and Training Center (ITTATC) I wrote the course on Section 508 Web Accessibility which is now available on the ITTATC site and which is available here.

Here are the thoughts of one satisfied viewer.

Just wanted to thank you for providing such a terrific Accessibility course online. I am currently formatting map- and table-heavy material for a well-used publication here at my organization, and your suggestions for handling alternative text are just what was needed. No other accessibility source I've consulted has been as clear or has offered such useful, real-life examples.

Natalie Ferguson, MA, MPH
Health Communications Specialist

And from another reader:

I'm on your Forms tutorial today, as the WAI info raises more questions than it answers. Your site has been really, really useful. I also enjoyed reading some of the other material on your site; especially the "What not to do".

Siobhan (

In addition to ITTATC, my clients have recently included Xerox, IBM, CCH Group, LexisNexis, National Federation of the Blind, NASA (Glenn Research Center), National Cancer Institute, and the Governor's Office, State of Texas.

Please contact me or call anytime 512-306-0931 - or write, Jim Thatcher, 800 Double Bend Back Road, Austin TX 78746.


Local Navigation Top     


  The detailed and thorough tutorial on web accessibility - in twelve lessons:
Web Accessibility for Section 508 - Tutorial
  An analysis of techniques for
Skipping Navigation Links
  A Federal web page that passes accessibility checks and fails in usability:
Web Accessibility: What not to do
  The key book on web accessibility:
Constructing Accessible Web Sites
  Here is the comparison of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and the Section 508 standards:
Side-by-side comparison - Section 508 vs. WCAG
  My picks of accessibility links:
Online Resources
  The latest ...
Copyright © 2000-2004 James W. Thatcher.