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WebMasters Accessibility Toolkit

From: Gregg Vanderheiden <po@trace.wisc.edu>
Date: Mon, 1 Dec 1997 22:48:42 -0600
Message-ID: <01BCFEAB.47343DC0.po@trace.wisc.edu>
To: "'Uaccess-L'" <uaccess-l@trace.wisc.edu>, "Techwatch (E-mail)" <Techwatch@trace.wisc.edu>, "Webwatch-L (E-mail)" <webwatch-l@teleport.com>, "'IG - WAI Interest Group List'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

Trace Announces a Cooperative Project to Develop a Webmaster's 
Accessibility Toolkit.

The Trace Center, as a part of its work with NCSA (home of Mosaic) and a 
new NSF funded national web infrastructure project (PACI) and the US Postal 
Service's Web Interactive Network for Government Services (WINGS) project, 
has launched a project to develop a toolkit that can be used by web masters 
to help create accessible websites.  This is a cooperative project 
involving people from across the country to create a kit of tools that 
web-masters can use to help develop more accessible websites.  (See below 
if you are interested in participating).  The broad sponsorship of the 
program is an indication of the need for the toolkit by everyone from high 
technology next generation website webmasters to national public website 
webmasters delivering basic services to the citizenry.

Elements of the toolkit will include:
     1. Set of "Good Practices" Guidelines:
     2. A Checklist for Accessibility and Usability:
     3. The Bobby Page Checker:
     4. The Text Only Maker (TOM) Program:
     5. A Table Cracker / Unwrapper
     6. The Sorcerers Apprentice:

1.	Set of "Good Practices" Guidelines:
This will be a set of good practice guidelines that will include but not 
exclusively be restricted to accessibility issues.  These guidelines will 
be general good practice guidelines combined with web accessibility 
guidelines.  The accessibility guidelines will initially be based on the 
Trace Center sponsored cooperative "Unified Web Accessibility Guidelines." 
   The guidelines will later be based on the web accessibility guidelines 
developed by the web accessibility initiative of the W3C (who is taking 
over and extending the guidelines in conjunction with their other web 
access work).  The goal is to come up with a single relatively simple ( 
given the complexity of the web) set of guidelines which webmasters can use 
for creating webs that will be friendly to both high bandwidth and low 
bandwidth web browsers, people with varying disabilities and people using 
different types of devices (audio browsers and very small display devices, 
such as PDAs or cell phones) to browse the web.
2.	A Checklist for Accessibility and Usability:
The checklist will be available in a number of forms, including an 
electronic net version and plastic covered card in an updatable format.  It 
will provide a checklist that can be easily consulted or posted as a 
mechanism to review the major issues and strategies a person should check 
when doing a web page.
3.	The Bobby Page Checker:
This is a tool developed by the Center for Advanced Special Technology 
(CAST) which provides web page checking function.  The tool will examine 
any page(s) desired and provide a report back to an author of potential 
accessibility issues on their page.  The tool is currently based off the 
unified web guidelines but will be revised to reflect the WAI guidelines 
when they come out.
4.	The Text Only Maker (TOM) Program:
This is a tool being developed by Keith Wessel as part of the NCSA-PACI 
UDDA project to help authors create text only versions of their graphic or 
applet intensive pages.  This tool will be available stand alone and also 
as a part of the sorcerers apprentice.
5.  The Table Cracker / Unwrapper:
A major problem for people using screen readers is being able to access 
information that is tabular in nature.  This tool will help Web Masters 
mark up tables using new table markup guidelines.  It will also help them 
to create linear presentations of table information that can be used as 
alternates to tabular presentations on the primary or an alternate version 
of the page.
6.  The Sorcerer's Apprentice:
The Sorcerer's Apprentice (SA) is a program which can be used by a web 
master (or web wizard) to assist them in making their site more accessible. 
 This is a spider type program which will walk a website (or any linked 
sequence of pages) and assist the author in identifying problems and 
creating an accessible version of the page of the site.  This is an 
interactive program which can only be operated by someone who has 
authorization to change the site and who is knowledgeable in the various 
technologies and content of a site.  The tool also requires that the user 
have knowledge of strategies for creating accessible sites although it will 
have a mode which will not actually alter the site but which will highlight 
issues and then point the user to places to read and learn about 
accessibility strategies.  Once the individual is familiar with the 
strategies, they could then return and use the tool to help them walk 
through their site and fix it up.  It does not eliminate the need for a web 
master to learn about accessibility.  It will, however, greatly reduce the 
amount of work needed by a web master to make a site accessible or to 
maintain the accessibility of sites.  It also can be very helpful in 
maintaining the accessibility of sites which have multiple authors who come 
and go adding material which is not properly formatted for accessibility 
without a web master's (or the accessibility web master's) knowledge.
One of the key features of this tool will be a dual view format which when 
used with large monitors or dual monitor operating systems allows for a 
graphic rendition of the page to appear on the left and several different 
"accessibility" views to appear on the right.  These views would include 
displays of what the page would like with text only access, screen reader 
access, PWwebspeak access, etc.  This project will be undertaken by a team 
including individuals from multiple centers as part of the UDDA and WINGS 
project.  Jon Gunderson from UIUC will be shepherding this project for us 
which will draw expertise from many individuals.
(The Sorcerer's Apprentice draws it name from the fact that it is a useful 
and helpful tool in the hands of an experienced web master, but it is not a 
program that would be turned loose on a site in order to "fix it" 

Anyone (organizations or individuals) interested in contributing to or 
working on this cooperative project or any of the tools please contact the 
Trace Center at info@trace.wisc.edu

This project is being carried in coordination with and in support of the 
W3C's Web Access Initiative (http://WWW3.ORG/WAI) with funding from the 
National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR - DEd), 
the National Science Foundation's NCSA-PACI project, and the U.S. Postal 

-- ------------------------------
Gregg C Vanderheiden Ph.D.
Professor - Human Factors
Dept of Ind. Engr. - U of Wis.
Director - Trace R & D Center
gv@trace.wisc.edu    http://trace.wisc.edu
FAX 608/262-8848
For a list of our listserves send "lists" to listproc@trace.wisc.edu

Received on Monday, 1 December 1997 23:56:41 UTC

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