Accessibility Update: Section 508 and WCAG in a Library 2.0 World

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Preconference session from the 2009 LITA National Forum, Salt Lake City. Accompanying case studies also available on Slideshare.


  • 1.Accessibility Update: Section 508 and WCAG in a Library 2.0 World
    Nina McHale
    Assistant Professor, Web Librarian
    University of Colorado Denver
    LITA National Forum
    October 1-2, 2009

2. Our Goals: You Will
achieve an understanding of the history and purpose of accessibility standards
know how to validate code for web standards and accessibility standards
become familiar with screen reader software and how it works
be able to evaluate for accessibility many types of web resources commonly used by libraries
3. Todays Agenda
Accessibility and usability defined
Introduction to web standards
Section 508
WCAG 2.0
Code validation
Validating for accessibility
4. Tomorrows Agenda
Screen readers in action
Video: How I Use a Screenreader
JAWS, Window Eyes, and VoiceOver
Case Studies
Library web pages
Library catalogs and CMSs
Vendor databases
Web 2.0 tools
5. Getting to Know You
Who are you?
Name, job title, organization
Your experience to date with web design/development/content management and accessibility
Why are you here?
What to you hope to gain from this session?
6. Accessibility
the ability to access the functionality, and possible benefit, of some system or entity.
-Wikipedia, Accessibility
7. Usability
the extent to which a product (e.g., device, service, environment) can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use.
-Wikipedia, Accessibility
8. Accessibility Fail
9. Usability Fail
10. Why is Accessibility an Issue?
Because the increasingly graphic nature of the Web has made using it more difficult for people with visual disabilities to use
Because Web browsers are too forgiving of bad code
(X)HTML doesnt have to be perfect to display correctly to a sighted person
Because library Web pages tend to be home-grown
11. Accessibility: Why Does It Matter?
The American Foundation for the Blind estimates that:
10 million people in the US are blind or visually impaired
1.3 million people are legally blind
People with learning and physical disabilities use screen readers as well
Legal implications: AFB vs. Target
Universal Design: writing good code is good practice, and makes it more accessible to all
12. Excuses, Excuses
Were not legally obligated to be accessible.
Its too hard to create accessible sites.
We dont have (m)any users with disabilities.
Our vendors dont; why should we?
Screen reader technology will catch up.
13. History of Accessibility Standards
World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
Web Content Access Guidelines (WCAG)
WCAG 1.0: published May 1999
WCAG 2.0: published December 2008
Federal Government
Section 508
First published in December 2000 as part of an amendment to to Rehabilitation Act
Enforced June 2001
Recommendations for update submitted April 2008
14. WCAG 2.0 and 508: Whats the Difference?
WCAG 2.0
4 principles, 12 guidelines
Has 3 levels of conformance, A-AAA (formerly Priorities 1-3)
Compliance is voluntary
Section 508, Subpart B, 11.94.22 a-p
A list of 16 checkpoints
A subset of a much larger document, The Rehabilitation Act
Compliance is mandatory for some
15. WCAG 2.0: Whats New?
List of 14 guidelines restructured into an outline of 4 principles
Not as specific as checkpoint format of WCAG 1.0
Priorities 1-3 replaced with conformance levels A-AAA
Note: well be reviewing Level A only
Met with criticism from developers
16. WCAG 2.0 Principles 1-2
Principle 1: Perceivable
Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.
Principle 2: Operable
User interface components and navigation must be operable.
17. WCAG 2.0 Principles 3-4
Principle 3: Understandable
Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.
Principle 4: Robust
Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.
18. Principle 1, Guideline 1.1
Text alternatives
Provide text alternatives for any non-text content so that it can be changed into other forms people need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols or simpler language.
19. 1.1.1: Non-text Content

  • All non-text content that is presented to the user has a text alternative that serves the equivalent purpose.


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