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Re: Compatability

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 20 Jan 1999 11:40:08 -0500 (EST)
To: Ashlee Diehl <adiehl@tb.tele-bank.com>
cc: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.04.9901192320240.3967-100000@tux.w3.org>
Bits of answers interspersed, with the TAKE-HOME MESSAGE at the bottom.

The Disclaimer: The references given are 'work in progress' and the URIs
are not necessarily stable. These are the best answers I can give at the
moment, but I think they are reasonable ones which I will not feel a need
to change much in the near future. It should also be noted that these are
personal opinions, and do not necessarily reflect the views of anyone
else. Specifically, they should not be construed as being endorsed by the
MIT, the W3C or any of its member organisations.

I am sending this to the GL group because there may be people there who
can add to what I say or point out errors. (And because they were asked
the question as a group)

On Tue, 19 Jan 1999, Ashlee Diehl wrote:

  Dear Sir or Madam,
  How can I find out if my company's Web site (www.telebankonline.com) is
  universally accessible?  

CMN:: 
You can find out if it is likely to be inaccessible. There are a
well-known set of problems which make a site inaccessible. If it has none
of those then it is PROBABLY very widely or universally accessible.

AD::
  How would a visually impaired or blind person go about getting on
  the web? Would they have to use applications and browsers such as JAWS
  or Lynx?

CMN::
Usually there are two pieces to browsing the web. The software which is
used, and the rendering device (hardware). 

For software people use a wide variety of systems, from Lynx and W3
(text-based browsers) to Opera, Arachne, Explorer and Netscape ('normal'
graphic browsers) to pwWebspeak and HomePageReader (voice browsers -
specifically designed for audio output, altouhg they usually provide some
kind of visual display as well. These are related to the new generation of
mobile and telephone-based browsers)

For rendering device most blind people use a voice output system or a
braille device. Voice output systems are not necessarily hardware - JAWS
can use several, some of which are simply software, (although it relies on
the speakers of course) while emacspeak and ultrasonix use the DECtalk - a
hardware speech synthesiser (there are many other voice output systems).
pwWebspeak (for windows) comes with a software speech synthesiser.

AD::
  Does a Web site have to reach certain
  standards to be able to be used with these interfaces?

CMN::
A website does have to meet certain standards for these interfaces to be
useful. It should be noted that many of these are also used by
non-disabled people. I use Lynx as my main browser, although I do have
Netscape, Amaya, Explorer and w3. More about the details in a minute.
  
AD::
  I would like to make our Web site as accessible as possible, but I'm not
  sure where to begin.  Do you have any suggestions?  Is there a check
  list that I can give to my Web master to find out how accessible we are?

CMN::  
Universally accessible means more than simply catering to blind people.
There are also people who are deaf, people who have various kinds of motor
disability, and people who have combinations of these disabilities using
the web.

THE TAKE-HOME MESSAGE:

Read the WAI Page Author Guidelines (although the name may change). These
are presently a working draft, but they represent a very thorough approach
to accessibility issues. If you meet all the checkpoints, then your site
will be very widely accessible. The document also includes discussion of
rationales, and has an associated techniques document which discusses ways
to meet checkpoints.

http://www.w3.org/WAI/GL/WD-WAI-PAGEAUTH is the current DRAFT version.

There is also a set of quicktips - a checklist of 10 things you really
really really should do. These are not a full treatment of accessibility,
but they fit on a business card and will get you a long way towards the
goal. Again, these are a pilot version, and may change.

http://www.w3.org/WAI/References/QuickTips#QuickTips

As an aid to assessing your site, you can use Bobby, an automated
accessibility checker produced by the CAST organisation. Remember that
being 'Bobby- approved' does not ensure that your site is accessible -
there are features which Bobby cannot check, and it is only a computer
program. On the other hand it is a good and quick way to find out if your
site contains some of the most common and serious accessibility problems

http://www.cast.org/bobby


AD::
  Thanks for your help,
  
  Ashlee Diehl
  Marketing Programs Manager
  TeleBank
  (703) 247-2099
  adiehl@telebankonline.com
  
CMN::
Pleasure. It's good to see providers taking the problems seriously.

cheers

charles

--Charles McCathieNevile -  mailto:charles@w3.org
phone: * +1 (617) 258 0992 *  http://purl.oclc.org/net/charles
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative -  http://www.w3.org/WAI
545 Technology sq., Cambridge MA, USA
Received on Wednesday, 20 January 1999 11:40:11 GMT

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