by Glen Walker,
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:
- 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.
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.
As we work our way into the new year, there are new issues every vertical must address. In 2015 many of these issues center around technology. Education is always at the forefront of new issues and ether reflects or predicts the concerns of the community at large. A January 15, 2015 article by Tanya Roscorla published on the Center for Digital Education website and titled, Top 6 Higher Ed Digital Policy Issues to Watch in 2015 demonstrates this listing the top policy issues as:
- Security threats
- State authorization for distance education
- Internet of Things management
- Competency-based education exploration
- Staffing shortage
- Electronic Accessibility for people with disabilities
Security has sat at the top of many lists for years as the protection of personally identifiable information is a paramount concern for everyone. Just as we clutch our wallets and purses on crowded city streets to keep our credit card numbers and other personal information safe, we demand that same information stay protected as we conduct business on the web.
The branches of the web grow and reach out of our computers into our everyday household items and cars. The internet of things is bringing inventory management into our refrigerators, allowing our phone to talk to our house and soon it may be driving our cars for us.
As we lock things down to protect our security and the web spreads into every aspect of our lives, number 6, the issue of access, becomes increasingly important. Convenience in everyday life needs to extend to everyone. Digital education has put the classroom in the living room. A convenience for anyone who is far away from the school or simply doesn’t have time for the commute, is even more necessary for a person with a disability who may have mobility issues or be blind. However, if the digital education platform is not accessible, what should be a convenience becomes a barrier for people with disabilities.
This, of course, extends to ecommerce and any other convenience on the web. Therefore, what is important for education in 2015 becomes important for business and institutions in general. When considering the issues it’s important to look at them together. If worked in silos, an issues like security can oppose accessibility. Looking at them together, however, strengthens both. The expansion of the internet into our things is easy to make accessible if they are work together. Retrofitting accessibility, however, can be much more costly.
While looking at these lists we can ask ourselves how these things are important to what we do and to the people we do it for.
Today HTML5 was published as a W3C recommendation by the HTML Working Group. This defined the 5th major revision of HTML. Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director, explained that HTML5 and the Open Web Platform are driving growing user expectations.
HTML5 enables the following and more:
- Web video and audio tracks without plugins
- Programmatic access to resolution-dependent bitmap canvas
- Native support for SVG and MathML
- Annotation important for Ruby
- Features to enable accessibility of rich application