+++E-Access Bulletin- Issue 89, May 2007.

Technology news for people with vision impairment ( http://www.headstar.com/eab/ ). BT Age and Disability Unit ( http://www.btplc.com/age_disability/ ) Ford Motor Company ( http://www.ford.co.uk )

NOTE: Please forward this free bulletin to others (subscription details at the end). We conform to the accessible Text Email Newsletter (TEN) Standard: http://www.headstar.com/ten/ .

++Special Notice - Building the Perfect Council Website- 12 July 2007. - Olympia 2, London http://headstar-events.com/council07/ .


Following the huge success of last year's conference, we are pleased to present this second annual event where a wide range of experts and practitioners will offer their view of how you can create the perfect council website: easy to use, compelling and engaging.

A partnership between E-Government Bulletin and the Society of IT Management's Socitm Insight Programme, the event will draw on the collected wisdom of eight years of Socitm's annual 'Better Connected' review of all UK council websites and feature the Better Connected reviewers' own insights, plaudits and brickbats.

Speakers include Donna Smilie, Senior Web Accessibility Consultant, RNIB; Dominic Tinley, Editor-In-Chief of the UK Parliament website and Mary Reid, Mayor, Kingston upon Thames and Board Member, ICELE. Interactive workshops will cover issues in detail including usability, and the use of third party software. For details and to register see: http://headstar-events.com/council07/ .

[Special Notice ends].

++Issue 89 Contents.

  1. Section One: News.
  2. 01: Expert Tips For Accessible Web Content Available On DVD - 'Web Accessibility - The Movie' released.
  3. 02: Online Guide To London Underground Launched - new website for disabled travellers on tube network.
  4. 03: Voice Technology Helps Pilot Complete Record Breaking Flight - blind adventurer flies half way around the globe.
  5. News in Brief:
  6. 04: Far Sighted - equality vision consultation opens;
  7. 05: Reading Software - Google optical character recognition project;
  8. 06: Broadcast News - ACB radio launches online station.
  9. Section Two: 'The Inbox' - Readers' Forum.
  10. 07: Captcha This - feedback from reader's audio captcha tool; 08: Web
  11. 08: Check - website accessibility request; 09:
  12. 09: Dictionary Request - Italian English dictionary sought.
  13. Section Three: Focus - Web Accessibility.
  14. 10: Overcoming The Barriers To Accessible Websites: Any organisation going through the process of making their website accessible will come up against some pitfalls, such as justifying the added resources needed and persuading senior management of its importance. John Morse from Eduserv, a non-profit IT services group, presents some useful advice.
  15. Section Four: Focus - Employment.
  16. 11: Access To Work?: If government policy on equal employment opportunities for disabled people is going to be successful, then many forms of "eDiscrimination" will need to be removed. Peter Wheeler of Salford University in the UK describes an exciting new research project focused on improving our understanding of the barriers.

[Contents ends].

Section One: News.

+01: Expert Tips For Accessible Web Content Available On Dvd.

A host of experts including Anne McGuire MP, Minister for disabled people, have contributed to a new DVD that advocates web accessibility and provides best practice tips and demonstrations to web designers and commissioners in all sectors.

A World Denied aims to influence decision makers in the public, private and third sectors about the need for accessible websites. It is targeted at web managers, human resource departments, budget holders and programmers, among others.

Billed as 'Web Accessibility - The Movie', the film is comprised of interviews with key players in the field such as barrister Robin Allen QC, Julie Howell, Director of Accessibility at website development company Fortune Cookie and Disability Rights Commissioner Dame Jane Campbell.

Interviews are interspersed with clips of demonstrations of the use of assistive technology to navigate the web by AbilityNet's Head of Accessibility Services Robin Christopherson, who is vision impaired. Christopherson is also one of the film's executive producers, along with Martin Greenwood, Programme Manager of the 'Socitm Insight' team, which is responsible for promoting good practice in the design of local authority websites.

"It covers all bases, the legal side and the business case," Christopherson told E-Access Bulletin. "It's a powerful self-contained tool to leverage budgets and raise awareness," he said.

According to Christopherson, the medium of a DVD was chosen to allow people to watch it in their own time and to include those that do not use a computer often. He also said a film would broaden the appeal of the subject matter. "We're not discounting the possibility of offering it streamed online," said Christopherson.

The DVD has been produced by Society of IT Management (Socitm), a professional body for UK local authorities, AbilityNet, the charity focusing on access to IT by disabled people and Boilerhouse, a communications company. A World Denied costs 50 pounds but is free to subscribers of Socitm Insight. It can be ordered from: http://www.socitm.gov.uk .

+02: Online Guide To London Underground Launched.An online resource of information on travelling on the London Underground (LU) train network for people with vision and other mobility and sensory impairments has gone live. The LU 'Nationwide access register,' is currently available on the website of Direct Enquiries ( http://www.directenquiries.com/ ),a UK company providing online searchable resources for access information on businesses and services. The service will be integrated with the existing Transport for London Journey Planner over the next six to nine months.

The Direct Enquiries service enables users to make searches by clicking on any number of 17 logos on the home page representing their needs or disability to ensure the most relevant results. Users then type in a London station, business or service, its location, or both. The details returned in a search on an underground station, for example, include information on the number of steps, lifts, escalators, walking distances and gap width between the platform and the train. The site also allows passengers to find out detailed information about all 252 stations, such as whether staff are trained to help with improving disabled access, seats, telephones and how many stairs there are. And the resource provides detailed text only information on interchanges between station platforms as well as street-level access information. The Transport for London Journey Planner will include personalisation features, removing the need for users to tick the same options each time they visit, and will provide live travel information feeds, LU's Accessibility and Inclusion Manager Wayne Trevor told E-Access Bulletin. "Accurate information is key to improving confidence in travelling," he said.

+03: Voice Technology Helps Pilot Complete Record Breaking Flight.Voice technology has helped blind adventurer Miles Hilton-Barber set a new record by flying a microlight aircraft from Biggin Hill in England to Sydney in Australia. The flight, which followed the route of an air race staged in 1919, aims to raise 1 million pounds to help the fight against preventable blindness in developing countries. Hilton-Barber navigated the 13,500 miles over 21 countries using instruments specially adapted to deliver voice output of the aircraft's altitude, direction, and wind speed. He entered the readings into an onboard computer using a wireless keyboard strapped to his leg. He was accompanied by a sighted co-pilot, who was responsible for speaking to control towers and providing back-up in case of an emergency. The journey began on March 7 and took 55 days to complete, requiring the pilots to deal with extreme weather conditions such as heavy snow in the mountains of Lebanon, and tropical rainstorms. The flight will raise funds for Seeing Is Believing ( http://www.seeingisbelieving.org.uk/ ),a project run by Standard Chartered Bank to promote treatment of eye cataracts in Asia and Africa.

++News in Brief:


+04: Far Sighted:

The UK government is seeking public views to feed into a consultation to create a vision of equality for disabled people by 2025, launched by the Office for Disability Issues. Disabled people and those whose lives are affected by disability in some way must submit comments by 9 May. A report will be published during the Summer: http://www.officefordisability.gov.uk/consultations .

+05: Reading Software:

An open source project to develop state of the art optical character recognition (OCR) software is underway at the University of Kaiserslautern in Germany. Sponsored by Google, the OCRopus development group welcomes contributions from programmers to create a system suitable for vision impaired users, among others, for reading documents such as letters, bills and magazines: http://code.google.com/p/ocropus/ .

+06: Broadcast News:

An online radio station is to be launched by ACB Radio on 7 May. Broadcast over the internet in English and other languages it will include music, speakers and a live stream from the Africa Forum, which focuses on breaking down barriers to social inclusion for vision impaired Africans. ACB Radio World is looking for potential broadcasters: http://www.acbradio.org/ .

[Section One ends].

++Section Two: 'The Inbox'- Readers' Forum.


Please email all contributions or responses to: inbox@headstar.com .

+07: Captcha This:

Peter Abrahams, Accessibility and Usability Practice Leader at Bloor Research writes in response to Tedd Sperling's contribution in the March issue calling on readers to test his accessible audio captcha tool at: http://www.sperling.com/examples/captcha/ . Peter writes: "I wrote an article about the problems of captcha this time last year ( see: http://fastlink.headstar.com/cap1 ). If you read it and then go to the bottom you can make a comment, the comment form has a captcha which in my humble opinion is superior to yours for the following reasons:

1. It does not use a wheelchair as a symbol for playing the audio (for a non vision impaired wheelchair user the use of the symbol in this context is confusing at the least). 2. As far as I could tell the wheelchair symbol is not in the tab sequence so I could not get to it without using a mouse. 3. When I click on the wheelchair I then have to tab to the input field before I can type in the code even though the obvious place for the cursor is in the input field. 4. I like the use of the phonetic alphabet but I recognise that that is more a matter of taste. 5. Something I have heard on other sites, which neither of us does, is to add some background noise (Google now does this). This is designed to stop a speech to text engine being used to automate the input. I suspect that this is only really needed if you feel the site is going to have a denial of service type attack.

"I hope this is all helpful and I look forward to your comments." [responses please to: inbox@headstar.com]

+08: Web Check:

Margot Lindsay from the London Centre for Dementia Care at University College in London writes: "I need an evaluation of the usefulness of our web page to the searcher. The web pages are at: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/dementia ." Margot also asks: "Do you know of a feedback form I could use as I need to get some outside evaluation of the web pages?" [responses please to: inbox@headstar.com]

+09: Dictionary Request:

Clare Page writes in response to a contribution published in the last issue of the bulletin from Corrado Calza on an online Italian literature resource found at: http://fastlink.headstar.com/itrai1 . "I found the item about the website from which audio books in Italian can be downloaded very interesting.

"However, my Italian is not yet very fluent, and I don't have a huge vocabulary in this language either: therefore, if I am reading or listening to Italian, or trying to speak or write it myself, I would like to be able to check vocabulary as I go along, to be sure that I am understanding or using words correctly.

"For this reason, can readers please recommend a good, and accessible, Italian-English dictionary on CD-ROM to me? I live in France, and don't expect to go to the UK or to Italy in the foreseeable future, so can anyone recommend a dictionary which I can buy through the internet?

"There may well be other E-Access Bulletin readers out there who would be interested in the reply, either English-speaking people like me who are learning Italian, or Italians who want to improve their English. Thank you in advance for your help." [responses please to: inbox@headstar.com]

[Inbox ends].

++Section Three: Focus- Web Accessibility


+10: Overcoming The Barriers To Accessible Websitesby John Morse.

Achieving a high level of website accessibility requires a higher than average commitment from the organisation in question, as well as additional effort on the part of the developer and designer to allow for adequate planning, design and testing of the solution.

The time, cost and effort can be hard to justify. Since a well designed site should be "transparently" accessible and usable, the return on investment (ROI) can be hard to sell to decision makers, who may not see the immediate benefits of communicating your message to a wider audience in an accessible manner. It does, however, require a change in the focus of the organisation to accept that there is a business case for accessible or usable websites.

Often the people responsible for the web presence of the organisation understand this, convincing senior management further removed from the technology can take more time and effort than is available, particularly when trying to achieve aggressive deadlines for delivery. This means that the project team have to work on two or more fronts, delays are introduced while departments wait for approval and the risk of failure or limited ROI is increased. Shortcuts and half compromises are easier to justify and the quality criteria of the original project are not met as the path of least resistance is taken to meet short term, nearsighted deadlines.

The following outline illustrates the issues that can arise in a typical project lifecycle.

An organisation approaches a supplier with a list of requirements of the site or application; often this list is made up of features that they have seen on other sites, which might be considered as "cool" features.

Somewhere on that list, often hidden towards the bottom, will be a line requiring the solution to be accessible and usable, with no real understanding of the implications of achieving an accessible website. Once project costs are supplied, the organisation - faced with the additional costs and time needed to comply with the accessibility standard - may lose its enthusiasm for delivering accessibility, particularly if faced with losing some of the cool tools.

Then there are the corporate identity guidelines, which are often developed by marketing teams for print materials and applied by design agencies. In the majority of cases print-based design guides simply do not work when applied to online digital media; colours, font sizes and logo designs are rarely appropriate for accessible online digital display. The overriding priority of these designs is to maintain the corporate image. When faced with an accessible or usable online solution which deviates from this corporate identity, then accessibility and usability requirements, are normally sacrificed.

Then the customer is faced with controlling the way they release the content to the web in a more structured way, in the case of using a Content Management System (CMS), this will involve a workflow which will require checks before publishing. The changes to the business process are rarely welcomed by the customer's internal content providers.

Suddenly the time cost and effort needed to develop, design and maintain an accessible and usable solution are harder to sell to the budget controllers in an organisation who see little immediate ROI in developing a fully accessible solution for what is considered a minority market, the requirements for an accessible solution get reduced to "where possible", which usually means where it is easy.

To prevent these issues arising, senior management buy-in must be achieved; once convinced of the benefits of accessible and usable solutions, they can back the additional effort and associated spend on delivering accessible services.

A more usable and accessible site can result in better customer experience, visitors can find what they need easier and quicker, as a result the organisation's staff are not called upon to answer routine calls from the customer and are free to handle other issues and improve the organisations effectiveness.

Also, the effort spent on creating a better online service can result in an increased public profile and an improved satisfaction rating which in turn results in increased visitor statistics and increased efficiency and value for money. These benefits are difficult to sell at the start of a project but are desirable for any organisation.

NOTE: John Morse is an IT Architect at Eduserv, a not-for-profit professional IT services group, offering technology to education institutions and public sector bodies.

[Section Three ends].

++Section Four: Focus- Employment.


+11: Access To Work?By Dr Peter Wheeler.

The Informatics Research institute (IRIS) at the University of Salford has won funding from the European Social Fund (ESF) to conduct research into the barriers faced by many disabled people caused by inaccessible web content design.

E-government has brought most public services to the web, although the question of how accessible such material is appears to be an issue of variable consistency.

This research project ( http://www.iris.salford.ac.uk/ediscrimination/ ) aims to provide local authorities in the North West region of England with employment-related information on eDiscrimination. This will assist their implementation of the new public duty enshrined in the 2005 Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).

The North West of England has been chosen to host this research because this area has been identified as one where a disproportionate number of disabled people are outside the labour market compared with other regions. Although the project is fixed geographically, nevertheless as with many internet based applications, the results will be of interest and relevance to many providers of internet resources.

Clearly, if government policy in terms of increasing equality of opportunity for disabled people to enter the workforce is to succeed, then all forms of eDiscrimination will require removal especially at labour market entry points.

The research team includes Dr David Kreps, an expert on web accessibility and Dr Peter Wheeler whose research specialises in issues related to business employment and disability. The Salford team has approached the method of conducting the research from an interesting perspective. Rather than attempting to categorise barriers to access based on specific impairments, for example, those faced by visually impaired people, the research will focus on barriers which are firmly rooted in technology. The starting position for the Salford team is that the web can be made accessible to all. However, if web content is not designed to appropriate web content accessibility guidelines, then this can disable access for adaptive computer users. The research is directed towards the relative accessibility of employment websites and online job application forms.

In the first instance, a representative sample of prominent employment- related websites will be audited to provide a benchmark to determine the general level of compliance to web content accessibility guidelines. Industry and public sector organisations will also be invited to participate in developing best practice approaches. However, perhaps the most significant research partners will be people with impairments who use adaptive computer equipment to access internet resources.

Impaired people who use either adaptive hardware or software will join the research and it is their experiences which will help guide the project. Individuals will be interviewed to gather general information on what problems they encounter when accessing the web, and then asked to carry out two tasks on a designated employment related website.

The results of the research will be disseminated to all participants in late 2007. Hence this research does not assign any barriers to inclusion as assigned to an individual impairment, but regards the disability and discrimination impaired people face as aspects of inaccessible and inappropriate design.

NOTE: Dr Peter Wheeler is lead researcher for the 'Combating e-discrimination project' at Salford Business School at the University of Salford in Manchester, England.

[Section Four ends].

++Special Notice: Web Accessibility Forum.


Accessify Forum is a discussion forum devoted to all topics relating to web accessibility. Topics cover everything from 'Beginners' and 'Site building and testing' through to projects such as the new accessibility testing tool WaiZilla and the accessibility of the open source forum software itself.

All you need to register is a working email address, so come along and join in the fun at: http://www.accessifyforum.com .

[Special notice ends].

++Special Notice: Braille Translations.


Braille Translations provides a fast, cost-effective, high quality service of translating any document into Braille. We are able to provide Braille menus, public leaflets and business cards in Braille and help make you compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act. We can translate from large print, audio tape or audio CD.

We can also help with premises accessibility including Braille Tactile Signs for toilets and other doors.

All work is proof-read before dispatch and we are able to provide an express 24-hour service. Please call our offices for an immediate quotation or for further information on Freephone number 08000 190 946; Mobile: 07903 996533; email ghow@brailletranslations.co.uk or see: http://www.brailletranslations.co.uk .

++End Notes.



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Please send comments on coverage or leads to Dan Jellinek at: dan@headstar.com .

Copyright 2007 Headstar Ltd http://www.headstar.com . The Bulletin may be reproduced as long as all parts including this copyright notice are included, and as long as people are always encouraged to subscribe with us individually by email. Please also inform the editor when you are reproducing our content. Sections of the bulletin may be quoted as long as they are clearly sourced as 'taken from e-access bulletin, a free monthly email newsletter', and our web site address http://www.headstar.com/eab is also cited.


  • Editor - Dan Jellinek
  • Deputy editor - Derek Parkinson
  • Senior reporter - Mel Poluck
  • Technical advisor - Nick Apostolidis
  • Editorial advisor - Kevin Carey.

ISSN 1476-6337 .

[Issue ends].