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Telstra bans CAPTCHA tests

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Australia’s largest telecommunications company Telstra has won the day by announcing it will no longer use CAPTCHA tests on its apps and websites.

The announcement was made as part of its Disability Action Plan, released to mark International Day of People with Disability. CAPCTHAS notoriously present a barrier to many users with disabilities, including those with vision impairment or dyslexia.

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W3C WAI news: Calls for feedback on WAI-ARIA, multimedia accessibility and updated WCAG 2.0 Techniques

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The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) sets the standard for websites to reach in order to be accessible for people with disabilities. The international body has issued a number of updates relating to its accessibility work, including a call for review of the WAI-ARIA 1.0 Use Agent Implementation Guide, updated WCAG 2.0 Techniques and a first draft of the Media Accessibility User Requirements.

The first working draft of the WAI-AIRA 1.0 User Agent Implementation Guide, which describes how browsers and other user agents should support WAI-ARIA (the Accessible Rich Internet Applications specification), has been released. The guide explains how to expose WAI-ARIA features to platform accessibility APIs. This is a final request and feedback needs to be provided by 17 February 2012.

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The W3C web accessibility initiative - 2011 in review

While it seems like the year has flown by for many people, it has also been very productive one, especially for the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).  As the year draws to a close it’s time to reflect on the some of the contributions that the W3C WAI has made to make the web more accessible in 2011.

While it seems like the year has flown by for many people, it has also been very productive one, especially for the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).  As the year draws to a close it’s time to reflect on the some of the contributions that the W3C WAI has made to make the web more accessible in 2011.

One of the areas that has received great interest during 2011 is the creation of resources by the Education and Outreach Working Group with its Before and After Demonstrations (BAD).  These resources have proved popular in showing how information on an inaccessible website can be redone in an accessible way. There are a number of additional resources provided by the working group including accessibility-related presentation materials.

Another area of WAI that has released some popular resources is the Web Content Working Group that have provided a number of updates to its draft Techniques document including Flash techniques at the end of last year and PDF accessibility this year.  There have also been updates to the draft documents on How to Meet WCAG 2.0 and Understanding WCAG 2.0

The Research and Development Interest Group become a Working Group (RDWG) in 2011 with its aim to increase the incorporation of accessibility considerations into research on web technologies.  Its initial focus is on web accessibility metrics and an online symposium on the topic is being held on 9 December.

Another productive group in 2011 is the Evaluation Tools Working Group which provided significant updates to the language (EARL) scheme and also saw the establishment of the WCAG 2.0 Evaluation Methodology Task Force (Eval TF) which is aiming to develop an internationally harmonized methodology for evaluating the conformance of websites to WCAG 2.0 and a draft for comment likely to be available soon.

Several other Working Groups also updated their documents during 2011.  The Protocols and Formats Working Group have also had a busy 2011 with a significant update to WAI-ARIA as a Candidate Recommendation at the beginning of the year and a lot of related work since.  WAI-ARIA is particularly significant in providing developers with the ability to better interact with assistive technologies.  The Authoring Tools Working Group have continued work on the ATAG 2.0 draft and associated techniques through 2011. This standard will provide improved accessibility to people with disabilities using authoring tools, and more accessible content being produced when people using authoring tools. 

The User Agents Working Group has also updated the UAAG 2.0 draft, providing accessibility guidance to developers that create web browsers.

Finally here has been the announcement of WAI-ACT - Web Accessibility Initiative - Cooperation Framework for Guidance on Advanced Technologies, Evaluation Methodologies, and Research Agenda Setting to Support eAccessibility.  This project is funded by the European Commission nd crosses over the EOWG, the RDWG and Eval TF.  The project commenced in September so it’s very early days yet.

Outside of WAI, 2011 has also seen significant developments in other web accessibility-related areas including HTML5.  The promise of accessible media players, drag and drop functionality and it’s close relation to WAI-ARIA is likely to see web accessibility and assistive technologies continue to improve in 201 as HTML5 continues to progress towards a standard.

Before signing off for the year, I’d like to thank everyone that has taken the time to read the column and look forward to providing more information on all things W3C accessibility-related in 2012.

Dr Scott Hollier represents Media Access Australia on the W3C Advisory Committee and publishes the W3C Column monthly.

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Online audio description – 5 tips for best practice

Audio Description (AD) in video content has proved vital for ensuring that people who are blind or vision impaired can experience video presentations such as movies and TV shows. In Australia, AD content is growing in the areas of cinema and DVD. Internationally, we have seen huge growth in audio described television. However AD content still has a fairly low profile online. 

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