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Actual tests of websites on e-accessibility in all EU member states plus Norway, USA, Canada and Australia took place, and were published.

The report is based on the international guidelines WCAG 2.0. This means that the study mainly concerns the technology and doesn’t cover cognitive aspects, content or on how interfaces work on mobile devices nor the accessibility in documents. The report thus can’t be read as an absolute measure of web-accessibility, but more like a temperature check based on cluster sampling.

The overall result of the survey is a disappointment. Relatively easy things fail in many places, for example marking up the headings properly. More recent requirements, which came with WCAG 2.0 in 2008, are even less implemented.

There are differences between the countries, but, there is no country which can be described as good. We were hoping that the EU member states would learn from each other and be inspired from good examples, but that doesn´t seem to be the case.

One conclusion is that the most successful countries are those who have managed to combine several things:
– Legislation or policy which is not too technically detailed but more focused on individual rights;
– A well developed industry with a high level of accessibility competence, also among end user organizations.

WAI invites comments on the First Public Working Draft of Applying WCAG 2.0 to Non-Web Information and Communications Technologies (WCAG2ICT). This draft document provides guidance on how Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 can be applied to non-web information and communications technologies (ICT), specifically documents and software. It does not discuss whether or not WCAG 2.0 should be applied to non-Web ICT. For this draft, WAI particularly seeks comments on: * The overall approach of the document. * The “Additional Guidance” in this draft. * Additional key terms to be defined in this document. * Is it necessary or helpful to provide guidance on applying the principles and/or guidelines? (This draft currently provides guidance only for success criteria.). Note that only the success criteria are used for determining conformance to WCAG 2.0. Please send comments on this draft to the publicly-archived mailing list: public-comments-wcag20@w3.org *by 7 September 2012*.

A new advanced draft of the EC-mandated (M376) European Standard EN 301 549 has just been published for commenting. See in particular chapter 9 for the web and chapters 10 and 11 for applying W3C WCAG2.0 also to electronic documents and software applications interfaces, and the related annexes C9 to C11 for verifying conformance. Comments are due by 15th September 2012.
See also:
– The first draft of the W3C Note on Applying WCAG 2.0 to Non-Web Information and Communications Technologies, e.g. to electronic documents or software applications, has just been published for commenting: http://www.w3.org/TR/wcag2ict/.
– The draft of the W3C Note on Website Accessibility Conformance Evaluation Methodology (WCAG-EM) 1.0: http://www.w3.org/WAI/ACT/ (a more advanced draft is expected shortly for further commenting).

The focus of web accessibility is often on web development – the things that happen in HTML, CSS, or JavaScript after a site has been designed visually. Optimal accessibility should start much earlier, as part of the visual design process. WebAIM created an infographic that highlights a few important principles of accessible design.

Web Accessibility for Designers infographic with link to text version at WebAIM.org

View an accessible version of the infographic above, courtesy of Chris Throup.

The EDF report: A Compilation of Resources on the Web-Accessibility Internal Market gathers resources in relation to web-accessibility. This list of resources is by no means exhaustive but brings further insights:
– It present reports and studies illustrating the state of play of websites access in Europe and providing further insight on the socio-economic rationale behind making websites accessible;
– It gives the voice to persons with disabilities illustrating the everyday problems they encounter because of lack of access to websites;
– It also brings the perspective of some web developers providing services of web-accessibility;
– And some accessible owners explain why they think it is worth designing accessibly.

Download EDF Report: A Compilation of Resources on the Web-Accessibility Internal Market

9th International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility – 16/17th April 2012 – Lyon, France

The World Wide Web has changed the way we search, access, consume and produce information. While existing superficial content allows us to browse and interact with the Web, we are far from taking full advantage of it. Laying beneath the surface of the Web there are a number of phenomena such as trends and patterns in information structure and in user behaviour that do shape the way we communicate, consume and browse. As far as accessibility is concerned, Web content plays a central role in an ecosystem where user agents, authoring tools, crowd-sourcing frameworks and testing tools determine how accessible is the Web. As these components are moving to the cloud, their mere activity and interplay produces large amounts of data. For instance, thousands of testing reports are being generated every day by automatic tools and auditors. Moreover, crowd-sourcing tools are facilitating a myriad of accessibility fixes and providing guidance to users.

In parallel, announcements made by UK and US governments, amongst others, to make public data available are contributing to adding enormous amounts of data to the Web. While some of these data repositories consist of raw data, some other are explicitly structured and semantically annotated set of documents. However, users still find it difficult to access to these data mainly because of information overload and access barriers. So even if the major goal of Open Government initiatives is to foster transparency, the reality is that citizens struggle to access.

So we can find data produced by the accessibility ecosystem -users and tools- and intentionally uploaded data. The former, if adequately exploited, can yield invaluable knowledge to better understand web accessibility as a phenomenon. The latter provide us mechanisms to arrange these data on the web so that they are accessible for machines although not for humans. As a result, topics of interests include (but are not limited to):

  • Intelligent processing of the massively produced reports by accessibility testing tools.
  • Web mining and AI techniques for accessibility testing and repairing.
  • Usage patterns of accessibility tools on the cloud.
  • How to use data produced by means of crowd-sourcing accessibility fixes.
  • How data produced while interacting and traversing the Web can improve accessibility.
  • How to create user profiles from log data.
  • The characterization of the Web at a macro and micro-scale.
  • Accessibility of Linked Data repositories.
  • Using Linked Data to better organise knowledge on Web accessibility.
  • Web authoring guidelines and tools
  • Mobile accessibility
  • User modeling and the adaptive web
  • Adaptation and transformation of existing Web content
  • Design and best practice to support Web accessibility
  • Technological advances to support Web accessibility
  • End user tools
  • Accessibility guidelines, best practice, evaluation techniques, and tools
  • Psychology of end user experiences and scenarios
  • Innovative techniques to support accessibility
  • Universally accessible graphical design approaches
  • Accessible graphic formats and tools for their creation

More information on the event website.