Web Design

The microblogging and social media site recently unveiled its new design, which sources say was inspired by a desire to align as closely as possible to the W3C WAI. To the sighted, the most obvious change is a greater color contrast in the updated design. Appropriate contrast ratios are a crucial part of an inclusive design, as many visually impaired people find it difficult to distinguish elements on a low-contrast page.

The jury is still out on whether users will embrace or reject this new change, but for those who long for the previous layout there’s a solution: an Xkit extension that will revert the look and feel back to the original. 

After years of dedicated service to WordPress’ accessibility team, team lead Rian Rietveld has announced her resignation. Citing political complications and multiple accessibility-related problems with Gutenberg (WordPress’ new editor), as her reason for leaving, Rian wished her successor, Matthew MacPherson, the best moving forward.

Considering that WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems in the world (currently powering 30% of the websites on the internet), its efforts towards accessibility are not only crucial for people with disabilities, but to set an example for the rest of the internet. For years there was no dedicated accessibility developer from Automattic (WordPress’ parent organization), but with the addition of Matt to the team there’s hope that the issues plaguing Gutenberg will be resolved. 

Google has a well-known policy that allows its employees to spend 20% of their time working on projects not related to their main job. Rio Akasaka, a project manager on Google Drive, took advantage of this policy and put in 20% of his time as a project manager to work on accessibility features for Google Maps.

Mr. Akasaka has worked for a year with a small team of contributors to introduce accessibility guidelines to Google Maps. The result is that, in addition to the information the map tool displays about venues and locations, it now displays information helpful to people with access needs.

While this may seem minor it is a major help to those who use a wheelchair. As with much accessibility, the new information will help other people as well including people who use other devices to assist their mobility and parents of small children using strollers.

For more information read the Business Insider India article.

Facebook can now automatically create alternative text for images generating descriptions that enable users who are blind or have low vision to envisage the content of the photo. The iOS app provides an audio breakdown of what’s happening in the photo using object recognition technology.

Using its vast supply of user images, Facebook has trained a deep neural network driving a computer vision system to recognize object in images. As is a standard in the WCAG 2.0 guidelines, the results are translated to “alt text,” which can be read by screen readers. 

W3C published updates to two supporting documents for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) today:

The WCAG 2.0 document is stable. The guidelines and success criteria are designed to be broadly applicable to both current and future technologies. This includes:

Dynamic Applications

Mobile

  • Digital Television
  • Other technologies

The supporting W3C Working Group Notes publish today provide specific guidance, which includes code examples, resources and tests. They are periodically updated to cover current practices for meeting the WCAG 2.0 guidelines.

More resources:

Crowd sourcing brings the knowledge of the masses to the needs of an individual. As a wheel chair user, Maayan Ziv had an individual need – to know if places in her city were accessible before showing up. This was the inspiration for her new crowd sourcing app, AccessNow, which collects and shares accessibility information around the globe.

AccessNow is a web based app that shows the accessibility status of hotels, restaurants, coffee shops and tourist destination all gathered from the globally crowdsourced information. The information is shown on an interactive map giving the user the benefit of the knowledge prior to traveling to the location. 

At Interactive Accessibility we have a dedicated team that works hard to produce the best services possible for our clients. Most of our time is spent in “head down” work mode – just like any other team producing products or service they’re proud of. Every so often, one of us pops our head out of the fog of a busy workday and remembers just why we have dedicated ourselves to accessibility.

iOS has an accessibility feature to allow users to select their preferred text size. Some applications will respect this setting and change their text size appropriately, however, some do not. To change your preferred text size

WAI-ARIA provides semantics designed to allow an author to properly convey user interface behaviors and structural information to assistive technologies in document-level markup. WAI-ARIA 1.1 adds features to WAI-ARIA 1.0 to complete the HTML+ARIA accessibility model.

The new and updated working draft is open for review as they are looking for comments. WAI-ARIA 1.1 adds:

  • table roles and a model to distinguish tables from grids.
  • the “aria-roledescription” property to refine user understanding of roles.
  • changed applicability of “aria-readonly” and “aria-level”.
  • expanded explanation of “supported” vs. “required” states and properties.

Core Accessibility API Mappings (Core-AAM) and Accessible Name and Descriptions: Computation and API Mappings (AccName-AAM) provide support for the new WAI-ARIA 1.1 features as well as more complete accessibility API Mapping for other features. 

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