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Global Accessibility Awareness Day: events in your city

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Thursday 15 May is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), a day dedicated to raising the profile of digital accessibility and people with different disabilities.

For those looking to find out more information about accessibility, or participate in accessibility initiatives, here’s a list of events happening around the country to celebrate GAAD.

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Kill CAPTCHA campaign update: send culprits a letter

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The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has published a letter for people to send to companies that use inaccessible CAPTCHAs.

CAPTCHAs are tests often placed at the end of online forms designed to tell if a user is human. They are used to enhance security and prevent spam or false registrations. While convenient for website providers, they often pose an impenetrable barrier for people who are blind, vision impaired, dyslexic or have a cognitive disability.

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US government agency sued for inaccessibility

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An accessibility law suit has been brought against the United States General Services Administration (GSA) alleging that its website, SAM.gov, is inaccessible and does not comply with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Section 504 requires that individuals with disabilities have equal access to the programs and services provided by recipients of federal funding.

The GSA is responsible for administering the federal government’s non-defence contracts and for ensuring that federal contractors comply with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.


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Accessible app competition launched

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The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) and the Australian Human Rights Commission have come together to run the inaugural Apps For All Challenge. The competition is designed to reward and encourage mobile app accessibility.

The challenge is a response to a growing digital divide between disabled and non-disabled mobile users. Although apps are becoming one of the main ways we do things from banking to socialising, app developers remain largely ignorant of accessibility requirements.

In addition to mainstream apps needing to become accessible, there’s a growing market for assistive apps designed for people with disability.


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Perth to host Web4All and World Wide Web conferences

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Perth has won its bid to host the 2017 Web4All (W4A) and World Wide Web (WWW) conferences. The two co-located events will see world renowned web accessibility experts descend on the city. 

The announcement was made at the conclusion of WWW 2014 over the weekend in Seoul, Korea. The WWW is the premier forum for discussion relating to the evolution of the web. W4A, which precedes WWW, focuses on how the web can be made more inclusive, particularly for older people and those with disabilities. The conference helps ensure that, as the web develops, the diversity of users’ needs is taken into account.

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Microsoft accessibility expert wins award for captioning work

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Anne Marie Rohaly, director of accessibility policy and standards at Microsoft, has won a national broadcasting award for her work on making online video more accessible for those who are Deaf or hearing impaired by providing closed captions.

In naming Rohaly as one of two 2014 Tech Women to Watch, TVNewsCheck recognised the work she did with the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers to develop standards for closed captioning on the internet, and as an adviser to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on regulations governing online captioning.


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ARIA becomes an official web standard

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Screen reader users can expect to gain greater access to websites thanks to technical guidelines, called WAI-ARIA (Web Accessibility Initiative - Accessible Rich Internet Applications), becoming an official standard.

ARIA is technology built into the code of a website which communicates specific information for screen reader users. ARIA landmarks and labels identify elements such as menus, forms and search boxes. ARIA live regions identify parts of a webpage that change, such as a rolling banner. These features, which are invisible to anyone not using a screen reader, can make all the difference for a blind user.

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European Union legislates for web accessibility

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The European Parliament has passed a law to improve the accessibility of information on government websites in European Union member countries. This will give millions of people enhanced access to vital information and services.

he draft law — which was approved by 593 votes to 40, with 13 abstentions — requires all European Union (EU) member countries to ensure that all websites managed by public sector bodies are fully accessible to elderly people and those with a disability.

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'Includification' in gaming at South By South West

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Austin Texas is currently playing host to the South By South West (SXSW) popular culture conference. The program celebrates innovation in music, film, technology and gaming. Among the companies taking part is AbleGamers Charity, a US based organisation which promotes inclusion of people with disability in gaming culture. Below is our interview with AbleGamers’ Chief Operating Officer, Steve Sohn.

MAA: You’ve coined the word ‘includification’. Can you give us a definition?

Includification is a phrase meant to convey the ideas of including everyone as an ongoing movement.  Game accessibility is not a topic that can be solved with one answer, or decision by one entity, but rather of movement by one segment of the video game community, disabled gamers, asking to be fairly included in regards to access of mainstream entertainment.

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Ticketing websites inaccessible, report finds

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Music fans with disability face constant obstacles when buying tickets for performances and festivals, according to a report released by UK charity Attitude is Everything (AiE).

While three quarters of disabled people prefer to buy tickets online, only 20 per cent of venue websites cater for their access needs. Instead, people must rely on using premium rate phone lines, prove their disability and discuss their accessibility needs each time they buy tickets.


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