Good afternoon and welcome. Thanks for joining us today as part of the ADA Distance Learning 2001 series hosted by your regional Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center. Today''s session is on "Surfing for Electronic Access" and is currently being captioned on the Great Lakes Web site at www.adagreatlakes.org. We have Mike Paciello joining us today. Hi Mike!
Hi. How are you Jennifer?
Good. Thanks for joining us. Just to clean house a little bit before we get started, we have several resources that are posted to the Great Lakes Web site. There are a couple articles posted to the web site that were written for Web Review by Mike Paciello. We also have a link to the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative and a technical guidance letter on web access from DOJ. This morning we also posted the session outline that Mike has so graciously provided us with. So don''t worry about taking notes on web sites or different resources that we might talk about today. Those are all posted up on the Great Lakes web site that you can either go get those now or refer back to them at the end of the session. So with that I would like to introduce Mike Paciello. Mike is the creator and chief technology officer of WebAble, an innovative portal for people with disabilities looking for access to the Internet and world wide web. He has more than 17 years experience in assistive technology and has received recognition from President Clinton for creating and launching the Web Accessibility Initiative on behalf of the World Wide Web Consortium. He is given seminars to clients including Microsoft, Adobe, Sun Microsystems, Easter Seals, Compaq, Hartford Insurance, Yale, MIT and NASA. My own little personal note here. Part of the reason that I so enjoy working on this distance learning series is the opportunity to work with folks that are out there working nationally, really working to create access for people with disabilities in different types of programs and facilities. Mike, thank you so much for joining us today because you are definitely one of the people out there that is working to make the web more accessible place for people with disabilities.
Thanks very much for the kind introduction. Let me preface all of the kind comments by saying that I''m one of many, many people who are involved in this area of accessibility of the web and there are so many folks who I really think deserve a lot more credit for their involvement and hard work that they have been involved in over the past four or five years in particular that we don''t hear about as often. So this is my hats off to them and taking advantage of those first couple of minutes to do that. It is really a great privilege to be a part of this session today and I hope that the folks that are attached and listening are able to gain at least some valuable content here and understanding of the the issues involving access to the world wide web and to the Internet for people with disabilities. It is my goal that even if you are not a technically inclined or oriented individual, but that you are somehow attached to the disabilities field as a professional or as a person with a disability, that this kind of material will help you personally. I hope that you will be able to walk away with it to help others and help build awareness that to me is the key to a lot of the problems that we have in the area of access for people with disabilities as a whole. I thought that we would start off by first focusing on what I hope to accomplish over the next 45 minutes or so through the session. Objectives being first that we''ll briefly review some of the legal requirements that individuals are familiar with and those that discuss or talk about web accessibility hurdles, as I call them. You probably are familiar with the term barriers, and that is often used in many circles. But I tend to think that more often than not things aren''t barriers. We just haven''t figured out how to get over them yet. That is what we are doing in this world. The second point is that we''ll identify the key components of web accessibility. That is, those things that are really important in order to ensure access to the web and they don''t just include technology. They include primarily user issues. So we''ll focus on those. The third thing that we''ll do is look at some recommendations regarding specific things that you can do as a user, as a person who is creating a web site, or perhaps as someone who might influence the design and creation of a web site in order to ensure that it is accessible. Finally, we''ll discuss some of the important tools, the useful resources and a couple of sites that I''ll recommend that you might want to just take a look at that really have already employed good accessibility practice. So those are the four key things that we''ll focus on over the next few minutes. Most people today really aren''t fully aware of the demographics involving people with disabilities in the United States. Part of their problem is because statistics around people with disabilities are a little bit difficult to come by. They tend to be approximations. We are looking at approximately 50 million people in the United States with disabilities. Recently I had the privilege of speaking at Dell Computer and they were quite amazed at how many people with disabilities really were here in the United States. When I broke down some of the statistics as those of you who are looking at slides might be able to see, it kind of gave more credence and a little more reality to how many people we are talking about here. For example that 50 million includes about one in five million U.S. citizens between the ages of 15 and 64. It includes one out of every two U.S. citizens or Americans who is 65 years and older. Approximately 20 percent of all U.S. citizens have a disability. That affects 20.3 million families, almost 30 percent of all U.S. families that have at least one member with a disability. This I thought was probably the one statistic that many, many people were very surprised at hearing, that that many families in the United States were affected by an individual with a disability. Then finally, of those 20.3 million families, a little more than 3.5 million families have a child that has a disability. So this really gives a lot of weight to a statement that many people are familiar with, and that is that people with disabilities actually form the largest single minority population in the United States. In fact, in a report that was delivered to President Clinton in 1998, it indicated that people with disabilities control more than $175 billion in discretionary income. If that is not a motivation for ensuring that the new economy and the new age working environment that many of us are exposed to, certainly the educational field, motivation enough to make things accessible, quite frankly I can''t think of another reason. And we are talking about statistics that are three or four years old, and certainly are larger at this point in time. Again, many people are familiar or fairly familiar with legal requirements and standard that have been established here in the United States regarding people with disabilities. These three mandates, key mandates that touch on if not specifically, at least allude to the access to the world wide web, include the Americans with Disabilities Act, the ADA. Also probably the least known of the major Acts involving Internet and telecommunications accesses, Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act. And of course the mandate that is gaining steam and is quite popular and in the press practically every day is Section 508 of the national Rehabilitation Act. Section 508 is kind of interesting. The reason why it is gaining so much press, part of it is misperception. Part of it is because people seem to think that Section 508 applies to everybody and every business and everything in the United States. Section 508 really is a procurement mandate upon federal agencies. That means that a federal agency itself is the one that needs to look at compliance before they purchase or buy services or hardware or software from a vendor or from a technology provider. Section 508 also requires that web site or web pages in applications that are attached to any federal contracts, they need to be accessible by June 21. This date June 21st is the date that many companies are a little bit nervous about, and certainly federal organizations and inter-agencies-in fact really the June 21 date is just the date when if anyone wants to file a complaint they can. Likely we won''t see that kind of thing happen until sometime after June 21, if at all. The more likely scenario that we are going to see is hard work that is already going on within the federal government and certainly amongst industry and individuals who have an attachment to Section 508 to ensure accessibility at all levels. The goal then of the mandate itself is to ensure overall accessibility of hardware, computer hardware particularly, but not necessarily exclusively; software for computers and things, networks and peripherals that might work in conjunction with the hardware and software. If you are interested in finding information, additional information about Section 508 and web accessibility and specific mandates that have been defined in Section a 508, let me recommend that you go to the web site addresses that have been specified in the slides and set up so you can have specific information regarding the guidelines on web accessibility and Section 508. There are as we know, several technical hurdles that currently make it difficult for some individuals with disabilities to use and access the worldwide web. First and foremost involves the content, the information that appears on your web site and its accessibility. People with disabilities, particularly the blind and in the vision disabled community, some people who are deaf or hard of hearing, and other individuals with mobility disabilities may have problems or run into certain situations where the content of the web page is not accessible through their or to their assistive technology that helps them to render the content. For example, sometimes things related as a presentation versus the structure of the web page are difficult for a blind person to read through their screen readers, screen reading software application. Certainly anything that is graphical is going to present problems for an individual who is blind and in some instances individuals with low vision. Image is quite interesting come into play for individuals with cognitive disabilities and I think this is one of those areas that we don''t give enough thought to. The presentation of the information, the images, the navigational scheme of a web page can be difficult for some individuals, for example, with dyslexia or learning disabilities might find it a challenge to get around web pages. And finally, multimedia presents a challenge. Clearly anything that is not captioned or a text transcript isn''t supplied with is going to present a challenge to individuals in the deaf and hard of hearing community and in some cases it will also present challenges to those in the visual disability communities. Usability is a major issue. Quite frankly, my feeling is that the primary reason why the web is not accessible or not wholly accessible to people with disabilities today is because individuals with disabilities are not considered as part of the core population when we created the web and web sites and even in its initial design. This is true for just about every form of technology, high technology that exists today. Individuals with disabilities are not included as part of the design of a particular software application or hardware component. And certainly this is also true. One of the first recommendations that I make to clients when they come to us at WebAble is have you involved individuals with disabilities in your site testing? And to a company, 100 percent I''ve yet to meet one company that has ever included a person with a disability in their site testing. So this is a big issue. The other area that is starting to become a little bit more clear is the presentation of standards and standards around how people should create accessible web sites. The standards that are out there today tend to be long, verbose, somewhat difficult to understand if not in fact difficult to read. Many of the standards have not truly been tested in the sense of being objective in nature certainly to ensure that the solutions of the standards that are being explained presented are truly those that will make sites accessible. So that becomes a problem. This is a problem internationally, world wide as it is just here in the U.S. The browsers and the other kind of clients we call them that people use to access a web, a client in this case could be a cell phone, it could be a personal digital assistant, it could be a regular browser, it could be a screen reader. Screen readers for the blind are reading web pages. They tend to present problems, limited preferences for users, so that web sites again can be made more accessible through the browser, through the client. Publishing tools today provide almost no support, if not at least limited support for accessibility. Just recently, we are starting to see some of the companies who create web publishing tools, for example, Microsoft with Frontpage, Macro Media with Dreamweaver, Soft Quad with Hot Metal. These companies are starting to put the tools in place, utilities in place to help publishers of web sites, make them more accessible at that level. Finally assistive technology are behind the technology curve. Generally speaking, when any new technology is created, the assistive technology vendors and folks are far behind the curve in being able to catch up and being able to render whatever the new technology is in an accessible way. A good example of that clearly are the screen readers for the blind and visually impaired community. Today it has only been within the last year and a half that screen readers were actually able to read web pages by themselves. But the web has been around since 1992-93, depending on how you look at it. So several years have gone by before an assistive technology could catch up with technology. If you are not familiar with how people with disabilities use the web, there are several nice ways to kind of get a feel for that today. For example, Microsoft and Windows 2000 has a built in screen reader. It is a little stripped down but gives you a good effect called Narrator. They also have an on screen keyboard which is a tool that is quite useful to individuals with mobility disabilities. And Windows 2000 includes a screen magnifier. Bits and pieces of these software are also available on Windows 98 and Windows ME. We are hearing a lot about Microsoft''s new software called Windows XP where many of these tools will be available. If you would like to get a feel for how a person with a disability uses a computer or has access to the worldwide web, those are a couple of tools that are built and given to you free as it were right within your PC. For web browsing, there are two web browsers that I use quite often: Homepage Reader which is made by IBM and works along with Microsoft Internet Explorer and does just a fantastic and marvelous job of rendering web content in an accessible way and Web 2000 is another interesting browser. The difference between the two, the speech engine for Homepage Reader is a little better. Homepage Reader, you are going to have to pay for depending on who you are or what you are looking for, the costs can range anywhere from as low as $70-80 to $120-130 for it. Web 2000 is a free browser. There are three keys to ensuring web accessibility. If you are taking notes, these are the three important aspects of ensuring that you as you design your web site, you take into consideration. The content as we''ve already talked about, the tools and the users. The content needs to be accessible. You need to have the proper tools to support you. And you have to be absolutely positively in touch with the users. Your users are going to depend on who you are creating your web site for. If you are creating a public web site so everybody can come in, it is going to be a little difficult to capture a specific type of user. But if you are working in education, if you work in a library, in a medical field or a particular area where you can more closely define your users, then you''ve got a way of being able to establish a relationship with them. So why are users important? They are going to give you the best feedback. They should be treated as your best friends. When we talk about users here, remember we are talking about users with disabilities. You need to be focused on testing your web site with them. In other words, be sure that once you have a general idea of the design of your web site or if you have a few web pages created, try to get individuals with disabilities involved in helping you to make sure that your site is useful, that it is effective or easy to use, that it is fairly easy to navigate and remember. And finally, most importantly, that they like it, that they have got a reason to come back to your web site. At this point if there are any questions that folks like to ask before I move on to the next few slides, I would be more than happy to take them.
Barbara of Cornell. You talked about Homepage Reader and Web 2000. We were wondering where you could find them?
You can find links to both of them up on WebAble, www.webable.com There is a section on browsers there that actually if you go down the page, you will see links for web page designers and that will take to you an area where you will see browsers and clients, click there and there are links to both of them.
My name is Jeffrey. Hi Michael. My question to you is how do you get to the classroom to teach the web developer after going through the courses about integrating accessibility into the core structure of the class so when they graduate and they go out into the corporate world to become web developers they have the insights that are necessary to build accessible web sites?
I think that is a great question. One of the big things I''ve been involved in for years has been trying to get to universities, in fact communities and high schools....As you probably know, there are kids in high school courses that are basically cranking out techno weebs, pardon the expression. That is how we need to do it. We need to get more people involved in the educational process. I tend to think that more often than not these things are accomplished best through educational initiatives that are sponsored by the community, by the university or by the Department of Education. I know that this is an important agenda for folks in the Department of Education. I can''t say that I can speak specifically to any plans or any initiatives that I have heard, but I would think that that would be the best way to go about doing it.
Thanks, Mike. Let us move on and we''ll break again for questions in a little while.
So you are probably wondering yourself at this point how do I go about getting started in this web accessibility issue and is there any kind of strategy that I can go about. I already have a web site up. What should I do? Well, I really kind of recommend a two-step web accessibility strategy. It is not too difficult. What you need to do is you need to kind of look at your site and inspect it for each HTML 4.0 and accessibility compliance. Let me just explain that. First of all, it is important that you create your web site even if you are using a WYSIWYG publishing system like Front page, it is important that you code for HTML 4.0. That means hypertext markup language and it is the version that was released by the World Wide Web Consortium, the version of the standard released approximately three or four years ago. We recommend that because it wasn''t until HTML 4.0 that all of the accessibility elements and coding that needs to be done to enhance a web site for accessibility were included in the standard. If you go up to the World Wide Web Consortium web site, you will find that they have a validation tool that allows you basically to just check your page 4.0 compliance. Most web publishing tools, including Front page, including Dreamweaver, including BB Edit for those folks that are doing stuff on the Mac, Adobe Go Live, most of them include a HTML validation tool within the publishing system. So if you are sure to check it there, you are probably going to carry most of the accessibility issues along with you. Then the second area is to look at the accessibility, and this often is done through using a variety of tools that we''ll talk about in just a couple of moments. The second step in that strategy, once you''ve gone through and inspected your site for HTML 4.0 and accessibility compliance is to set a priority list for either the standard or legal compliance. If you work for a federal agency you are going to be probably more concerned about Section 508 compliance. If you are just concerned about accessibility in general, then you''ve got the World Wide Web Consortium''s standard to fall back on. Plan, what I call a staged roll out of your accessibility. Look at your home page and enhance that first. That is the first page, and that is more often than not the piece of your web site that most people are going to frequent and visit. Make sure that is accessible. Then pick out your critical path pages. That is, if you set up a web site for a specific purpose, you probably have content and information that you think is more important than anything else that you have on that web site. So make sure those pages are accessible. The third part of that is look at your high traffic pages. If you are able to track how many visitors are coming in or what pages are being able to use, if you don''t have that information maybe you can get that from your Internet service provider. But make sure that the pages that are most often visited by folks that are coming to visit your web site are also accessible. So that is the first part of that staged roll out. Second is look at any new pages that you create, make sure they are accessible right up front. If possible, try to create accessible templates. Try to create three, four templates of pages that all your pages are patterned after, and make them accessible. That will make it easier for you to keep all of your pages accessible at once. Then the last point is to look at any medium traffic web pages and make them accessible. There are, as I mentioned, several tools that are available today to check the accessibility of your web site. I really want to caution everyone that is listening about accessibility validation tools that are available today. The first misnomer is that the Bobby tool which is probably by far and away the most popular of all the accessibility validation tools because it was the first, doesn''t mean making your site Bobby accessible or Bobby compliant, that your web site is accessible. The organization that created Bobby, CAST, would stand behind that statement. None of the tools that are out there today are going to guarantee that your site is 100 percent accessible. Quite frankly, it is almost impossible to make a site accessible to people with all disabilities, because you have a large variant in users with disabilities and characteristics and needs. So it is going to be hard to achieve that. But even with these tools, my experience has been over the last couple of years and as I''m watching more and more of these tools come out over the past couple of months because of mandates like Section 508, that the tools themselves do not check the web site code thoroughly enough and objectively enough to give you a complete and full picture of your web site''s accessibility. That is why what I recommend is that you use these tools as a first draft review of your web site. Get a good idea of what kind of problems are likely to exist on your web site and then following that, review the web site yourself and test it with users with disabilities. That is a sure fire way of making sure that your site is accessible. So if you are looking for tools, you''ll see in the slides tools including Bobby, a tool called WAVE, another tool that really tests for usability of your web site called LIFT. There is a tool kit has come out of the University of Toronto called A Prompt. A company that has gained a little bit of notarity, SSB Technologies. They have created two or three tools, one called Insight, one called In Focus and one called Clarity. Another company is a company called Net Conversion and you might take an opportunity to go up to Net Conversion''s 508 compliant web site and go to the tools area. They give away two or three free tools. One that I really like is one that basically just checks for the color contrast to see if you can gray scale your web page. If you haven''t checked the color for color blindness, this is a very simple way of getting an idea of how your site stands up to that. They have a couple of free tools they give away along with their regular service. Macro Media which is the creator of the Dreamweaver publishing suite as just release add brand new series of accessibility tools that work along with Dreamweaver for anyone that is really into hard coding a web site, they are doing an awful lot to ensure the accessibility within the publishing tool. Let me review the process for inspecting your web site. First thing to do is validate your HTML. Second thing is to validate or check for your accessibility. The third thing to do is get the users involved and validate for usability. Use some of the tools that are available and be sure that you test the users. And please be sure to test with individuals with a variety of disabilities. Minimally, I would recommend individuals who are blind and low vision, individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, individuals with cognitive disabilities, and individuals with mobility disabilities. That will give you a good round sense of what you need tests for. Also keep in mind don''t just test any kind of user. It would be good if you had users who were novice or maybe new, relatively new to the web or new to your web site and also test with experienced users. That way you are sure to create a good web experience for everybody. Finally, what I always recommend is to do a code review. You may want to leave that up to someone who is an expert in that particular area. But I really recommend that you for good pressure measure do a final code review. You are likely going to find as I do that there are some common ailments, if I can call them, of web sites that I seem to run into everywhere I go. The first is the poor use of colors. People tend to forget about color blindness. I see red hyperlinks all over the place and often times the most popular form of color blindness is the red-green, so that can be problematic. Structural elements used for presentation. Basically, what we are seeing is that some people are using tables that should be used for data presentation that are being used strictly for setup of their web site. That can be problematic. Streaming media that contains no captions or text transcript, I rarely run into any organization or web site that has streaming media that contains the captioned piece along with it or includes even a link to the text transcript. So I really kind of highlight the need to do that. If you have on your web site forms, say, for example you are soliciting information from your users or looking for them to subscribe to a particular thing, I find that most forms are poorly labeled. That means that the controls for actions, submit buttons and things along that line, labels that are attached to what kind of fields like name and address, are not labeled in a way that is screen reader friendly. If you have a web site that includes frames, a framed web site would be kind of like having multiple windows within a web page. If those individual windows within a frame are not properly coded, they can present problems. Of course one of the big areas today is PDF files, Adobe Acrobat file output system. PDF is nothing more than a big picture of words. It becomes a very difficult for a person who is blind or otherwise using some sort of screen reader or voice browser to render that particular content, PDF can be a challenge. The last thing is unrecognized or incompatible programming script or programming code. Most of these assistive technologies today still have not figured out how to work with things like Java script and Visual Basic script and common scripting languages that are available on the web. Some have, but most haven''t so that becomes problematic. Let me briefly go through simplified techniques for web accessibility. Some high level notes about what you might want to consider in order to ensure the accessibility of your web pages. If you have any images, if your web page has any images or animations be sure to include alternative text to the image. You can also use something called the title attribute if that is available. If you have graphs and charts that are displaying content information that is tabular or data within a graph or a chart that is clearly graphical in nature, you need to kind of look at those as images and be sure to include alternative text, which is a key element that is available through all publishing systems and in the HTML.
I''m sorry to interrupt. Can you explain why that is important to label things like images and graphs and charts? What happens when the screen reader comes across something that is not labeled?
Sure. One of the problems quite obviously with anything that is graphical in nature is how do you render it to something that is for screen reader or for a voice browser there is no way of reading it. If a browser or a screen reader hits an image that doesn''t have a textual alternative, generally speaking it will say the word or vocalize the word "image." So that is all the person has, there is no contextual meaning, there is no meaning to anything. I''ve seen web sites and web pages are the whole web page, a good one was Sony that had their whole web page one massive image, and you would bring up the site and it would say "image image image." Which of course means nothing to anybody, never mind a person using a screen reader. By including alternative text that provides a description of the function or potentially, depending if it is just a picture for example if you put a picture of your family up there, an appropriate description of the image itself, then the screen reader or the voice browser will read the alternative text in a way that makes sense to the user. There is another good reason for why you should do this and why you need to properly word the alternative text. Most screen readers and browsers for the blind and visually impaired separate out the links, the hyperlinks on a web page, so that it is easy for a for a blind person to very quickly and very efficiently go through a web site, that is the way that they can navigate. If you have an alternative text, for example, or a text that is a hyperlink that just said "click here," then that is all the person who is blind or again is rendering their content back in audio is going to hear. They are going to hear "click here" and it is not going to tell them if I "click here," what is it going to do or where am I going to go? So it is important that when you make a hyperlink or when you provide alternative text to a live image, you need to make sure that it is properly worded and therefore functional for a person who is rendering it that way. This is true also of multimedia. That means you need to provide textual descriptions and equivalents for audio information. In other words you can provide captioning. Magpie allows you to take multimedia and create caption. Very, very simple to use, very easy to use, and it is free given by the National Center for Accessible Media at WGBH in Boston. Some obvious things to do is make sure that your page is designed and organized properly. That usually will enhance the site for a person with disabilities. If you have tables on your web page-in other words, particularly we are looking at tables that you might use in an educational setting to provide data and content for a person, some thing that you would typically associate with columns and rows, it is really important that you provide a summary of the table, and that is possible to do within the table element, so a blind person has some contextual information. Again what will happen is if the table comes up, the screen reader will read the summary or tag, depending on what you put in there, and it will provide a full description that you can put in to the blind or visually impaired user. So that is important. Same thing is true, if you do make sites with frames, the recommendation generally is not to. It goes against the reading paradigm of what most people use. If you do create a web site that has frames, to make sure that you have include the title attribute or name attribute in frame, which is a little coding mechanism, so that again a person can identify, a frame like I said is windows, so you may have two or three frames or two or three windows within your web browser that you see. And each frame or each window within that web browser needs to have a distinct name that is closely associated with the information within that frame. So, again, a screen reader that is reading it will provide content and context to the user. If you have a web page with forms, be sure that you ensure keyboard access. The form can be completed by simply, for example, going through with a tab key on the keyboard. You can group your information logically. A classic example would be say you had a map of the world and instead of listing all the individual countries in that particular map or in that particular listing, you can group it by continent and then that will provide an easy way, kind of an outline form or hierarchical way of displaying or otherwise rendering information to a person with a disability.
Mike, if we could go ahead and open it up for questions now, I know we asked you to get so much information in such a short period of time. I have a wealth of questions here on our captioning and our chat room. So Kathy, I''m going to ask you to come on and give us instructions one more time to queue in to ask question. I have the first question here. Actually there are three different variations on it. You had gone back and mentioned about using HTML 4. A lot of times when you are using even different types of editing tools, like Front Page you''ll come across a lot of web sites that say best viewed in Internet Explorer 5 or best viewed in Netscape. What is the position that you take on using HTML 4 for those older browsers that don''t support that anymore? That is the first part of the question. And based on the fact that we know that when we use something like Frontpage as an editor, it looks very different in Explorer than it does in Netscape. Do you put a little note on that to say go view this in Explorer, or go view this in Opera, or Netscape or whatever. What would you recommend in that type of situation?
Hopefully I can capture answers to both of these questions. The first is generally speaking, if you are not using version 4 of Netscape or version 4 and higher of Internet Explorer, version 2.7, I think it is of Links which is a regular text browser, you are probably going to run into accessibility problems because those-it is minimally with those browsers support HTML 4.0. So I would recommend that you try to stick to the 4.0 and higher versions. Netscape and Internet Explorer up to version 5, I think Opera is at version 3 right now, maybe version 4. So all of those will support HTML 4.0. For the older browsers, you really don''t have a whole lot of leeway there. The natural thing to do is make sure you test-this kind of answers the second part of that question-not only test your site for accessibility but to test your site against different browsers to make sure that pages render a little bit more easily for some of the older browsers. If you run into situations-because it is fairly easy to upgrade a browser today by any individual standards, and generally almost no cost at all to do that, if you run into a person who is using an older browser what I would also recommend that you do is be sure that people are aware that there is someone that they can contact for help regarding the information on your web page. So providing some good help instructions. That way you might be able to provide them an alternative way of getting the text. If you are in an educational setting you probably have a little bit more of a challenge there because the individuals with the disabilities are going to need the material in a specific format and you are going to need to even laws above out there to be are going to make them accessible. So you are going to have to create content outside of that. But I generally try not to be too long-winded here. I generally say have them go at least 4.0 and higher with all of the browsers, and if they have run into any other issues beyond that, then they just need to contact you. Because this gets into the argument, should I create a textual site and a graphical site.And more often than not we try to recommend that you don''t do that so that you can make your site by itself accessible to most people.
Thanks, Mike. Kathy do we have our next question?
The question I had was about commercial software for designing web pages, does that generally imply that they are designing an HTML 4.0 plus?
Yes, it does. They will also be backwards compatible. You will see some that still allow you to do things with 3.2. But almost everyone the doing 4.0 now and higher.
Does the ADA-I mean does it imply that with new construction in a building it has to be accessible with web and sites, that sort of thing, would that also apply?
I''m going to take that for you, Mike. We have posted the DOJ position in a guidance letter that DOJ issued in 1995-96 to Senator Harkin. You want to definitely link to that from the Great Lakes web site. But just to kind of put that in context, basically what DOJ had said, since the ADA regulations were written before we used the phrase "WWW", that basically in a web site, you are providing information to your customers and so in essence, wherever you provide information, that information needs to be effective communication. So in the event that you wouldn''t be able to make that web site for one reason or another accessible, you would still have responsibility to provide that information in an accessible format. So I think we are really getting to a point in time that DOJ''s position on this and how web sites fall under Title II and Title III are going to continue to be challenged. We will see a lot of those cases hopefully making their way up into the courts. If you have anything to add to that, Mike.
No. I know that letter intimately, since we were cited in that. But I think that you''ve captured it. I can tell you that there probably will be more clarification around the web and web accessibility.
Thanks, Mike. Kathy, do we have-we have time for about one or two more questions.
This is Judy. Mike, can you give us one or two examples of favorite web pages that you like that don''t use frames, tables or PDF?
Oh, boy. That don''t use frames, tables or PDF? I don''t know that there is a site that doesn''t at least include tables today for positioning. Wow. That is a great question and frankly, I don''t know that...
I think it is pretty much a no brainer. It is www.adagreatlakes.org right?
That is a possibility. There clearly several web sites that have been created almost exclusively for the blind community where none of those things are included. But what I think about a great web site, I''m not thinking about the fact that it is accessible, but remember I wanted it to be enjoyable and likable. Quite frankly, I encourage everyone who I work with or clients to create a really great experience on the web. That implies a lot more than just making content available in a linear fashion which so many web sites for the blind are designed. So it is functional for them, but then I''m not really sure about the whole experience.
I think that is a really important point that you make is that accessibility doesn''t mean that it has to be ugly. We can go throughout the regs for the ADA, U-G-L-Y is nowhere there. There are a lot of great sites and you listed a couple here that do have some of those elements. Do you want to talk about a couple of those?
Two of the sites that I listed are the national Easter Seals and a Massachusetts based company called Homeruns.com. Easter seals has a very nice web experience that happens to support the disabilities community. But you''ll note that the design is appealing, it is also quite functional and everything on that web site is accessible to screen readers, in places where they have used tables, they are properly coded. Where there are forms, they right HTML to fill out the form is there. I believe in a couple of cases where they actually use multimedia or if they use PDF files, they provide the alternative format, a captioned version of the multimedia, or they will include a different type of file in addition to the PDF file. On homeruns.com, this is a company that we work with as well. This was a site that as it turned out catered very nicely to the disabilities community. It was a company that found that they had a fairly high percentage of individuals with disabilities using their service and yet their site was highly inaccessible. So we spent a couple of weeks with them, worked with them on the things of making them menus and forms and ordering process very accessible. You will see that it does use tables. If you look at the back coding, in order to format it. But they have done it in such a way that it makes it easy for again a blind person to navigate through with the screen reader. The images include the appropriate descriptions that are attached and they provide good customer service for accessibility.
Mike, we always try to get the most information as possible out of you in the short amount of time. Thanks for joining us today. I know that we went through a lot and I''m sure that people still have questions. You provided a great outline for us that people should, if they don''t already have access to it, go to the www.adagreatlakes.org web site and all of the reference material that you mentioned today is listed there. We''ll also mention to folks that you have a new book out, Web Accessibility for People with Disabilities. It is a great desktop reference for web designer. And you have information on your web site, right, on how to get that?
Yeah. You can order both a printed and electronic version. It is available in electronic versions for individuals who are blind and low vision. www.webable.com You will see a link there on the home page to the book and how to purchase it. I could let everybody know that I''ve started writing book number two.
Super. If you have a brief closing comment as we come up at the close of the hour.
Sure. Let me just reemphasize the need really here is to build awareness. I think one of the folks that had asked a question how do we go about teaching people, students, professionals about the need to build accessible web sites. We go about doing it by taking the initiative ourselves. Every time a person promotes it through awareness, joining in a class, bringing it up in a university setting, and setting up an initiative, that is the way that we are going to accomplish the greatest good. The technology will take care of itself because the technologies are involved in it. The people in the student''s community will take care of it. About those of us in the public and supporting people with disabilities, we are the ones who are charged with ensuring the awareness factor and so I would ask and recommend take the charge and go with the banner.
Great. Thanks so much for joining us today Mike. Hopefully we''ll be able to have you back for part two of this discussion. For those of you that still have questions, please do call your regional Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center at 800-949-4232. For those of you that have joined us today, thank you very much. We hope to have you back next week for a special session with Sharon Rennert of EEOC as she discusses the most recent Supreme Court decision Garrett v the University of Alabama and some of the cases the Supreme Court has agreed to hear during the next session. So we hope to have you become next week. Thanks again for joining us today.