Social Accessibility – Threes a Crowd?

Posted on Friday, 18 July 2008 by Steve Faulkner

I started to write a post about the new social accessibility tools/services that have been announced in the last week or so: IBM Social Accessibility Project and Webvisum.

And another one that has been around for about 5 years: C-SAW (Community Supported Accessible Web) from Serotek. This service is bundled with an AT called System Access. Although it only appears to be available (there is a dearth of information about C-SAW) with this commercial product there are over 4000 sites tagged with extra information to enhance accessibility for System Access users. When it was first announced Serotek offered other AT companies such as Freedom Scientific (JAWS) and GW Micro (Window Eyes) the opportunity to provide the C-SAW service as an open standard along with their products, but the offer was rejected.

Anyway, in the process of researching this post I found a post on Blind Confidential that covered all the apsects of the topic I wanted to talk about, and then some. So rather than duplicate information here I suggest that you read this post:

Time For Cooperation

 Over the past week or so, I’ve seen two announcements proclaiming new technologies for community driven projects to label non-compliant web sites that work poorly with screen readers. Adding these to C-Saw from Serotek which has been around for years makes three systems that total to superfluous and counterproductive sectarian standards that should be harmonized as quickly as possible to provide the entire community with a unified database standard so, no matter the AT they choose, all will enjoy similar results…”

Further Reading:


About Steve Faulkner

Steve is the Senior Web Accessibility Consultant and Technical Director, TPG Europe. He joined The Paciello Group in 2006 and was previously a Senior Web Accessibility Consultant at Vision Australia. He is the creator and lead developer of the Web Accessibility Toolbar accessibility testing tool. Steve is a member of several groups, including the W3C HTML Working Group and the W3C Protocols and Formats Working Group. He is an editor of several specifications at the W3C including HTML 5.1, Using WAI-ARIA in HTML and HTML5: Techniques for providing useful text alternatives. He also develops and maintains HTML5accessibility

Comments

  1. The whole FreedomBox model is/was a really good idea. The reasom FreedomBox is now System Access or SaToGo (the portable version) was renamed, is Freedom Scientific launched trademark violation action.
    The idea of AT vendors cooperating is a very admirable thought.
    It has to be recognized that this is a small market with high development costs. Anything which will reduce individual competitive advantage is a disadvantage.
    It is not dissimilar to the introduction of the “ID3″ system for mp3 files though.
    Widely used but not a standard.
    Tagging to accommodate the deficiencies of non-standards compliant sites is a monumental task. Tagging and notification might be a better proposal.
    By this I mean, mark up the wayward elements and send a notification, or public posting, of site corrections. Banks, Airlines, Utilities could see (as well as the Web World) the deficiencies of their sites.
    I’m not advocating “shame and blame”, just a WWW DB of improvement suggestions.

    This will go a whole lot further than individual AT vendors cutting their own throats in the very small marketplace. After all, AT vendors can only count on standards as the reliable benchmark to develop their technologies. Anything outside the standards model requires custom development and increases costs to the end user who is usually under-employed or under paid and cannot afford the cost of up-to-date AT.
    I’m pegging my hopes on the Open Source community , a la NVDA, to bridge this gap and implement full specification conformity rather than letting poor implementers and designers off the hook.
    Perhaps NVDA could host a “Your site Needs” DB for public posting of user suggestions.

    Steve

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