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Birmingham Focus on Blindness Case Study

From: Jeremy Hurst <jeremy@slightlydifferent.co.uk>
Date: Wed, 25 Jun 2003 18:17:11 +0100
Message-ID: <3EF9D917.3070700@slightlydifferent.co.uk>
To: W3C Bulletin Board <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>


I thought that you may be interested in the following case study which 
is a brief summary of the latest accessibility project we have just 
undertaken on behalf of Birmingham Focus on Blindness, a Midlands based 
charity.  The site address is at http://www.birminghamfocus.org.uk .

Birmingham Focus on Blindness Case Study

The purpose of this site was to highlight the work of this Birmingham 
based charity in an accessible way to enable people with sight 
impairment to find out information about the services offered on their 
behalf.  The site was intended to conform with Bobby and W3C Level AA 
accessibility and have a method of allowing the Birmingham Focus staff 
to update the site themselves.

The site was developed initially using standard Adobe and Macromedia 
development tools to create the basic site structure with a MySQL 
database running behind the scenes to serve the dynamic page content. 
Throughout the development we stuck rigidly to the W3C accessibility 
guidelines, with our aim to exceed the brief in all areas and in so 
doing push the envelope of online accessible design.

To ensure that the site met with the highest possible W3C Level AAA 
standards throughout, we handcoded amendments to most of the HTML double 
checking this with online code verification engines.  We then 
exhaustively tested the site to ensure maximum compliance with access 
technology such as screen readers and braille monitors, before the third 
stage of our accessibility testing which was carried out by Birmingham 
Focus volunteers and also the disabled client group of the Self 
Direction Community Project whom we regularly work with for peer 
appraisal, which is the key to true accessibility.

It is only by obtaining feedback from the people for whom a site has 
been developed that true accessibility can be achieved.


The site has many innovative features, most of which are not new but 
have certainly not been done in such an effective manner before and 
rarely within the same site.  The display can be fully customisable 
easily enabling a choice of text and background colours, and a choice of 
various font sizes and types.  A log in area exists that will memorise 
the settings of the user and display all pages in that way, and also 
feed content to the user that is most appropriate to them - this is a 
highly dynamic form of implicit personalisation.  News relevant to the 
site user can be highlighted, site searches will display more relevant 
results based on the user profile before any other results are listed, 
and all content is set with attributes to ensure that the site is a 
truly personalised experienced.

The content management system behind the scenes is second to none and is 
possibly the only website content management product developed today to 
be fully accessible to Level AAA standards.  In layman's terms, this 
means that not only can the website be browsed by someone who is 
completely blind, but that a blind person can have full control over the 
entire site and is capable of not just adding and removing content, but 
can also upload files, images, amend navigation links, remove and add 
pages and site sections, change links, and update the entire site to 
their liking.  This is what web accessibility is all about - making the 
Internet accessible to everyone regardless of their ability or 
disability levels.

The Way Ahead...

We seized the chance to work on this project as another opportunity of 
demonstrating our skills and abilities in the field of online 
accessibility.  Rather than just talk about it, we actually put our 
words into practice as, by raising the bar, we have shown that the 
combination of design, advanced functionality and true accessibility is 
not only possible, but should be the way ahead for the Internet.  If 
more people took accessibility as seriously as we do, the Internet would 
be a much better place for everyone.

E-quality is not just an offline word.


Thank you for your time.



Jeremy Hurst
Business Director
Slightly Different Ltd.   http://www.slightlydifferent.co.uk
Tel: +44 (0)1326 372416   Fax: +44 (0)1326 372114

UK Online for Business Partners - eBusiness Questions Answered
Received on Wednesday, 25 June 2003 13:11:19 UTC

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