Accessibility News Snippets

Written By: Peter Abrahams
Content Copyright © 2007 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.
Also posted on: Accessibility

There are a variety of little things that I think my readers
would be interested in.

You saw it here first

I was watching television on Friday 2 November and saw a program
called Britain’s Brilliant Ideas Boom and suddenly saw something I
recognised. It was Gridsure which I wrote about earlier
this year
. It looks so it is going to be a great success that
you saw here first.

British Computer Society Accessibility Awareness Day

This was held on 30th October in London. Its name is slightly
misleading because it was aimed at increasing awareness amongst
organisations involved with training around the European Computer
Driving Licence (ECDL) qualifications, rather than raising general

In fact I think it was a shame that it was not publicised and
aimed at a wider audience. I attended the afternoon session and
heard a couple of very interesting presentations.
The first was by Mandy de la Mare who is a thalidomide victim and
was born without any arms and has subsequently lost her sight. She
demonstrated how she uses the computer with JAWS (for reading to
her), Dragon (for dictating and controlling the computer) and J-Say
that makes the two work in combination. She showed that if things
are set up right, and that obviously includes the design of web
sites, that the computer can be a life enhancing facility.

The second talk was by Alistair McNaught from JISC TechDis. He
provides accessibility advice and assistance to higher and further
education institutions. He showed some simple techniques for making
training material more accessible, such as using styles for
headings in word so that the structure of the document is easily
understood. Although these ideas are crucial in higher education,
where it is imperative to include students with disabilities, they
apply equally to all other forms of education, in or out of the
workplace, and in fact to any form of formal communication. He
asked two questions:

  • Why are not all documents developed like this?
  • Why are these simple ideas not taught properly in the ECDL

TechDis has created a series of booklets describing these ideas.
Softcopy of these are available for free download from
TechDis Accessibility Essentials. They are worth looking at as they
look at various functions of Word and PDF and showing how they can
make documents more accessible.

PAS 124

The British Standards Institute made a press release on November
1 announcing
PAS 124
. An extract says:

‘British web compliance expert Magus Ltd, has commissioned
BSI British Standards to develop a Publicly Available Specification
(PAS 124) for web standards. Web standards govern the
effectiveness, function and appearance of a website, and include:
brand, legal, accessibility, search engine optimisation (SEO),
usability and technical standards.’

I will be following this with great interest and will be
involved with the public comment.

Cabinet Office Public consultation on Delivering Inclusive

The Cabinet Office in the UK sits at the very centre of
government and has an overarching purpose of making government work
better. It has just put a document out to public consultation
Delivering Inclusive Websites
. I have skimmed it and it appears
a helpful document with good simple advice and lots of references
to other material. Please look at it and feed back comments before
13 November 2007.

When the document is published it will become vital reading for
any UK government web site owner because it states:

“Websites which fail to meet the mandated level of conformance
shall be subject to the withdrawal process for domain
names, as set out in Naming and Registering Websites.”

Usability Day

November 8th 2007 is International Usability Day. Unfortunately
I have only just heard about this. It is in its third year and
World Usability Day was founded to ensure that the services and
products important to life are easier to access and simpler to use.
There are at least four events going on in the UK this year see .