ADA Center's quarterly Accessible Technology Bulletin
Technology Trainings & Events
Announcing the 2017 Accessible Technology Webinar series schedule. The series is hosted and coordinated by the Great Lakes ADA Center and the Pacific ADA Center, members of the ADA National Network.
The ADA National Network provides comprehensive services for up-to-date information, consultation, referrals, resources, and training on the Americans with Disabilities Act for businesses, employers, governmental entities, service providers and individuals with disabilities.
The first session in the series is Thursday January 19, 2017 1:00 - 2:30pm CST Modern Web Accessibility: Revisiting Fundamentals and Looking at New Challenges with Speaker Jared Smith, Associate Director of WebAIM
The webinar will be both a refresher course on tried and true accessibility techniques as well as a fresh look at web accessibility challenges facing today's web design requirements. While awareness of web accessibility is increasing, it can often be an overwhelming thing to implement. This webinar will provide an overview of web accessibility with specific things that you can begin to implement today. It will also provide an overview of tools and resources for evaluating your site's current accessibility.
Jared Smith is the Associate Director of WebAIM. He is a highly demanded presenter and trainer and has provided web accessibility training to thousands of developers throughout the world. With a degree in Marketing/Business Education, a Master's Degree in Instructional Technology, and over 16 years experience working in the web design, development, and accessibility field, he brings a wealth of knowledge and experience that is used to help others create and maintain highly accessible web content.
The Accessible Technology Webinar series is free, but participants must register at http://www.ada-accessibletech.org
Register for upcoming sessions:
- Modern Web Accessibility: Revisiting Fundamentals and Looking at New Challenges
- March 16, 2017 - Building Drupal's Solid Accessibility Defaults
- May 18, 2017 - Free Evaluation Tools, What They Can and Can't Do
- July 20, 2017 - Planning & Producing Accessible Videos for Web, Social Media & eLearning
Punch-In is a free resource for young adults with disabilities preparing for and seeking employment. One of the many offerings on the site is a free, online course to develop the skills and strategies necessary to be successful in career endeavors. Teachers and other professionals can set up a self-paced course to administered as group or individuals may take the course independently. The course includes over 100 high quality videos for instruction and advice. There is also a moderator for every course to assist and encourage students.
There are five content modules:
- Discover Yourself (Module 1) - This module is designed for students who are beginning to prepare for a job search. It offers tools to examine strengths in any potential job and explore careers options.
- Get Prepared (Module 2) - This module offers the foundational steps to develop your work readiness skills and jump into the critical steps of writing a good resume and cover letter.
- Find A Job (Module 3)- The Find A Job module helps set a job search in motion. A job search includes the way you find out, apply, and interview for employment. The module also has a special section on networking skills using social media to locate employment opportunities.
- Know Your Rights (Module 4) - Understanding one's rights and responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is critical in the employment process. This module is an introduction to the ADA and other disability laws.
- Use Technology (Module 5) - This module is an introduction to Assistive Technology (AT). AT may be a critical component for a successful career.
Web conferencing is a very general term for various kinds of technologies that allow two or more people from different locations to hold a live conference over the Internet. Web conferencing allows users to conduct business meetings and seminars, lead presentations, provide online education and offer direct customer or educational support. Web conferencing has become quite popular across all industries and offers many advantages. Web conferencing is creating new possibilities for conducting rich interactions with more people without the cost and hassle of traveling to a meeting location. And recordings can be viewed time and time again at one's own convenience.
Despite the many benefits web conferencing offers, it also poses challenges for accessibility. Real-time collaboration demands immediate interactions between virtual meeting participants. Live streaming of dynamic content makes it difficult to translate multimedia information into text or to provide non-animated alternatives. Additionally, the richness of options can create navigation problems.
Most web conferencing platforms support voice and video conferencing. Some platforms also support screen annotation, polling, speaker management, chat discussions, and shared whiteboards. Platforms that support video conferencing may also integrate with room-based video conferencing systems. Most web conferencing platforms are accessible via a web browser, but some necessitate downloading a client. A client is software that accesses a service made available by a server. The server is usually on another computer system, in which case the client accesses the service by way of a network. The client software may add complications for assistive technology users but is often required to take advantage of all features, such as voice and video conferencing and content sharing.
Given the complexity of web conferencing tools, it's not surprising that some accessibility issues arise in almost all products and platforms. In the context of the web conferencing user experience, three categories of disability call for specific attention regarding accessibility. Those areas are visual, auditory, and mobility. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) developed a set of guidelines for making web content accessible to those with disabilities.
A person who is blind is usually precluded from using a mouse or pointing device because of the hand-eye coordination required for effective operation. A person who is blind is also likely to use a screen reader. People with low vision might use a screen magnifier to enlarge text.
Access to interpreting services, closed captioning on television, instant messaging, and text messaging (SMS) has broadened the entertainment and communication options for those who are deaf. Some of these text- based channels, such as chat, are common features in web conferencing applications.
Mobility or dexterity impairments often limit a person's movement or fine-motor skills. They can affect the ability to type and to use a mouse or pointing device. People suffering from mobility impairments might use alternate input devices for interacting with their computer, such as voice-dictation software.
It is critical to know the accessibility features when choosing a web conferencing platform, especially for the issues discussed above. Some important factors to consider are the ability of the platform to operate with screen readers and coexist with other assistive technologies, menu navigation, keyboard shortcut support, closed captioning capabilities and customized displays.
Key accessibility questions to consider:
- Are all the features compatible with screen readers? Some products, even if accessible by keyboard, do not provide screen readers with essential information about interface components. Therefore, screen reader users may be able to navigate through the web conferencing environment, but they'll be completely lost without dependable audible feedback. If the web conferencing environment is generally accessible to screen reader users, how are these users notified when content changes dynamically? For example, if the instructor advances to the next slide, or if a participant receives a private chat message from another participant, how is the screen reader user made aware of this information?
- Are there features that communicate information exclusively using color? If so, these features will be inaccessible to users who are unable to perceive color differences. For example, some web conferencing products include audience seating charts in which audience members can change the color of their seats to send messages to the instructor such as ""Slow down"" or ""Speak up"". If the instructor is color blind, they will be not receiving this important feedback.
- Are all features accessible by the keyboard alone? Some users are unable to use a mouse.
- Does the web conferencing product or service support captioning for participants? If so, can the captioning window be moved and re-sized? Can the font size or color of the caption text be changed? Adding captioning to a live event is different from adding captions to a pre-recorded presentation. Web conferencing requires real-time captioning and a captioner is typically hired from an outside source.
When selecting a product, it is important to review the options for accessibility; however, given the number of web conferencing products on the market, it can be daunting to research each product. The Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) was created to standardized the way in which vendors report on their compliance with accessibility requirements. A VPAT is specific to individual products and, ideally, allows consumers to make informed decisions when considering accessibility of the product. Be sure to ask for the VPAT on web conferencing products you are considering.
And, don't forget about using best practices for hosting an accessible meeting by ensuring the meeting invitation is accessible, offering accommodations if appropriate, providing a list of keyboard shortcuts for the web conferencing software ahead of time, and making sure the presentation materials are prepared to be accessible.
- A Guide to Meeting WCAG 2.0 - https://www.w3.org/WAI/WCAG20/quickref/
- Comparison of the Accessibility of Webinar Platforms - http://www.accessiq.org/news/w3c-column/2016/07/webinar-software-round-up-are-there-any-accessible-options-out-there
- Comparison of web conferencing software by Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_web_conferencing_software
- Our Quest for an Accessible Web Conferencing System - http://www.washington.edu/doit/our-quest-accessible-web-conferencing-system-accesscomputing-news-january-2015
- Overcoming Accessibility Challenges of Web Conferencing - https://www-03.ibm.com/able/education/downloads/IBM_Overcoming_Accessibility_Challenges_of_Web_Conferencing-CSUN13.pdf
The Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology in Post-Secondary education project offers tools and resources on quality implementation of assistive technology in the post-secondary educational environments. The project is sponsored by the Great Lakes ADA Center.
At the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) international conference held January 18 - 21, 2017 in Orlando Florida QIAT-PS is hosting a listening session. This session will be held in conjunction with the National Assistive Technology in Education (NATE) network meeting. This session is free and you do not need to be a member of NATE to participate.
QIAT-PS is currently developing a set of student quality indicators for assistive technology with an accompanying Student Self-Evaluation Matrix tool for students to rate themselves on their AT skills. The tool will be useful to both students struggling to manage AT in higher education settings and for K-12 programs to assist students in enhancing self-awareness and problem solving with AT for better transition outcomes. The listening session is an opportunity to be the first to see the Student Self-Evaluation Matrix tool and collaborate on this exciting project.
In November 2016 the Accessible Technology Webinar series hosted a webinar entitled Accessible IT - A status report on legal milestones. You can review the archive on the Accessible Technology Webinar archive page. That session highlighted the position of the Department of Justice (DOJ) that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) covers Internet website access, mobile applications, and other forms of technology, including electronic book readers, online courses, and point-of-sale devices.
In light of the critical role that the Internet and information and communication technology play in contemporary society, including in the employment context, the federal government recognizes that access to information and electronic technologies is a civil right and a vital employment issue for individuals with disabilities.
DOJ is one of the lead federal agencies that administers and enforces the ADA. They have implemented a series of rules since 1991, and in 2003 published guidance on Accessibility of State and Local Government Websites to People with Disabilities. As of May 2016, DOJ has entered into 167 settlement agreements addressing accessible technology. While DOJ settlements only apply to the parties involved, they do offer insights into potential actions that DOJ might exact in similar situations.
Below are lists and summaries of recent legislative action
- Department of Justice Enforcement page - www.ada.gov/access-technology/enforcement.html
- Partnership on Employment and Accessible Technology (PEAT) DOJ Settlement List http://www.peatworks.org/resources/policy/DOJSettlements/List
- Legal Settlements that reference WCAG 2.0 http://www.d.umn.edu/~lcarlson/wcagwg/settlements/