Web Accessibility Interview with Shawn Henry, Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)

Greetings WOW Members and Web Professionals everywhere! Bill Cullifer here with the World Organization of Webmasters, WOW, and the WOW Technology Minute. Today?’s podcast is a continuation of the coverage on the topic of Web Accessibility. To assist me in better understanding this topic from an international perspective, I?’m on the phone with Shawn Henry of the Web Accessibility Initiative, WAI, World Wide Web Consortium and a Chair of the WAI Education and Outreach Working Group.

Shawn holds a research appointment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and is the author of JUST ASK: INTEGRATING ACCESSIBILITY THROUGHOUT DESIGN. She?’s also presented for WOW in the past and is a great addition to this podcast.

Good Afternoon Shawn and thanks for agreeing to this interview and, of course, for your comments by email. Shawn, you commented on the WOW Technology Minute Web Accessibility Podcast with Brent Norris. Can you summarize your comments and can you provide us with the resources and the links that you mentioned in your email?

SHAWN HENRY: Yeah, first of all it?’s great to hear about your project to evaluate and improve the accessibility of the WOW Technology Minute website. I noticed the mention of Section 508, which is for US government procurement, and so I wanted to share some information about the international accessibility of web content accessibility guidelines. So it?’s an international accessibility standard, and that acronym is WCAG. WCAG stands for the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, and it applies to websites and web applications. It?’s from the World Wide Web Consortium, or the W3C, and that?’s the group that defines standards such as html, css, etc. Within W3C there?’s a group called the Web Accessibility Initiative, or WAI, and that?’s the group that developed the accessibility guidelines. So WCAG, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, just as with other W3C web standards, are cooperatively developed with people around the world.

It?’s a little different from US Section 508. In fact, Section 508 was based largely on WCAG 1.0, but it?’s only a subset. So WCAG covers many more accessibility issues. It?’s much broader. Now WCAG 2.0 is close to being published. As of the 30th of April we now recommend that people start using the draft of WCAG 2.0, as we don?’t expect it to change very much before it?’s finalized, hopefully later this year.

There?’s several benefits to using WCAG 2.0. It applies to more advanced technologies, both current technologies, future technologies and non-W3C technologies like flash and PDF and other things. It has extensive supporting materials that gives you practical how-to examples as what you need to do as developers to implement WCAG and how to, technical implementation details as well as understanding the functionality that users need.

So that?’s just a little bit about WCAG 2.0, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, and if you want to get some more information I?’d encourage you to go look at the overview document and that is at http://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/wcag20. And that will give you an overview of the documents. There?’s a link to a FAQ, there?’s a really useful resource called “How to meet WCAG 2.0” and it?’s a customizable, quick reference of all the requirements and the information you need. So that?’s a bit about WCAG 2.0.

BILL: Excellent Shawn, thank you so much for that international perspective, as well as those resources available. I?’m curious to know, you mentioned earlier in your email to me regarding valuation tools and business cases. Can you address that?

SHAWN: Yeah, absolutely. I just wanted to let you know that we have several, we have a wide variety of resources from the W3C WAI. And Brent?’s comment about evaluation tools and yours about business cases has brought up two of them that I wanted to share. One is, for evaluation tools, we have a database, and that lists over 100 tools, multiple types of tools, languages, etc. And that?’s all searchable. So that?’s a good resource for finding different types of evaluation tools.

Then we also have a document called “Developing a Business Case for your Organization.” And it goes into detail about the social factors, technical factors, financial factors, and legal and policy factors, involved in the business case.

BILL: And this is from an international perspective?

SHAWN: Absolutely. It?’s a very broad resource. It covers whether you?’re in education, whether you?’re in government, whether you?’re in the private sector, a big company, a small company, it covers all these different issues. And it?’s designed so that you as an individual can pick the aspects that are relevant to your situation.

BILL: Excellent.

SHAWN: The business case is a little different for everybody.

BILL: Yeah, fair enough. Sounds like a terrific resource, we thank you for that.

SHAWN: Yeah. So if you want to find that, or any of the other resources, those are at http://www.w3.org/wai/resources.

BILL: Thank you so much for that. Anything else to share?

SHAWN: Another thing I wanted to mention is an interesting aspect about making developers?’ jobs easier and getting more accessibility for less effort. And that is the role of authoring tools. So authoring tools include your html editor, content management system, anything you?’re using to create content on the web. And when those support accessibility, that makes developers?’ jobs easier. So we also have authoring tool accessibility guidelines. And we are encouraging vendors to meet those, to make developers?’ jobs easier. That?’s another thing that developers can do, is to ask their authoring tool vendor if they?’re doing everything they can to meet accessibility guidelines as well. So that we can all get more accessibility integrated into our work with less effort.

For those who are particularly interested in providing equal access to people with disabilities, another aspect of the authoring tools accessibility guidelines, is the fact that things like blogging software, and wikis and photo-sharing sites and things like that, are also authoring tools. So it?’s important that they are accessible, so that people with disabilities themselves can contribute to the web as well.

BILL: Yeah. Good point, thank you for bringing that up Shawn.

SHAWN: Great.

BILL: Today?’s WOW Technology Minute is brought to you by the Adobe Corporation, where Adobe is debuting Adobe TV. That?’s right, if you haven?’t already checked out Adobe TV, check it out today at http://tv.adobe.com. And also check out their e-seminar series for web professionals for the month of July and August at http://www.adobe.com/go/webeseminars.

Today?’s WOW Technology Minute is brought to you by the Adobe Corporation.

Adobe Debuts Adobe TV
If you haven?’t already, check out Adobe? TV at Adobe TV. It?’s a free online video resource for expert instruction and inspiration about Adobe products. Adobe TV features four channels, each targeting a specific audience: Photographers, Designers, Video Professionals, and Developers. Each channel features programming from Adobe evangelists, leading trainers, subject matter experts, and luminaries who pull in the crowds at industry events around the world. More than 200 videos are currently available on Adobe TV, including Adobe?’s popular presentations at NAB. And new content is added regularly.

July and August eSeminars for Web Professionals.
Join Adobe software experts to learn how to use the tightly integrated tools available in Adobe? Creative Suite? 3 Web Premium. Web eSeminars are designed for web designers, web developers and anyone interested in enhancing their workflows, and learning new tips and tricks. Learn more and register at www.adobe.com/go/webeseminars.
Introduction to Dreamweaver CS3

Wednesday, July 23, 2008 10:00 A.M. PDT
Come learn how Dreamweaver helps you create standards-based websites, that will look great across different browsers. We will create a new design from scratch, based on a Photoshop composite, using CSS-based layout. We will also show some of Dreamweavers robust site management functionality, and see how Dreamweaver can help you learn various Web technologies.
From Pixels to Playback: Adobe Photoshop to Adobe Flash
Wednesday, July 30, 2008 10:00 A.M. PDT
Deliver professional grade SWF and FLV content that?’s as easy for users to view as it is for you to create, edit, and deploy.

Prototyping with Fireworks CS3
Wednesday, August 20, 2008 10:00 A.M. PDT
Fireworks CS3 delivers robust new tools for rapidly prototyping websites and user interfaces. Learn how to use Fireworks? prototyping features to create a working, click-through prototype; create multiple pages and share common layers across pages; import native Photoshop and Illustrator files, complete with hierarchical layer structures, layer blend modes, and layer effects; add rich symbols from Fireworks? Common Library, and customize symbol attributes in the Symbol Properties panel; and intelligently scale bitmap and vector symbols to avoid distortion.

It?’s ALIIIIIIIIIVE!: A Print and Web Designer Guide to Interactivity with Adobe Flash
Wednesday, August 27, 2008 10:00 A.M. PDT
Free the rich, interactive content inside your Adobe PhotoShop and Adobe Illustrator images with Adobe Flash. Learn how these programs give you a leg up when creating interactive and animated content for mobile devices and the web.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.