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Accessibility

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Web Accessibility

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  1. What steps should a developer follow when creating an accessible Web site?

  2. How do I test my web site for accessibility?

  3. Are PowerPoint files accessible?

  4. Are all PDFs accessible?

  5. Is Macromedia Flash content accessible?

  6. How do I get access to HiSoftware Compliance Sheriff?

  7. What is web accessibility?

  8. What is the Accessible Technology Initiative?

  9. Why do we have to change the way we do things?

  10. What are the consequences of not changing our practices?

  11. How do I correct the Sec. 508 error, “embed element missing noembed element?”

  12. Are there Sec. 508 Compliant HTML Coding Conventions to be followed when I develop Web pages for my site?

Q1: What steps should a developer follow when creating an accessible web site?

A: 1. Know how users with disabilities interact with the web. See <http://www.washington.edu/doit/Video/www.html>.

2. Understand W3C current technical standards for markup (HTML/XHTML) and style sheet (CSS) and apply these standards in your design:

3. Understand Section 508 Standards for Web-based intranet and internet information and applications (§1194.22) and apply these standards in your design.

4. Build the site to be standards-conformant; e.g. XHTML 1.0 strict and CSS.

5. Choose a standards-conformant, accessible authoring tool like Dreamweaver and use its standards-support and accessibility features.

6. Validate conformance with the WC3 technical standards by using tools such as the W3C’s HTML Validation Service and CSS Validation Service.

7. Validate conformance with accessibility standards by running Web accessibility evaluation tools, such as HiSoftware, against your Web pages. A good accessibility evaluation tool will also validate HTML/XHTML code.

8. Examine pages using graphical Web browsers such as: Internet Explorer ver. 7, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and Safari. The following toolbars will assist evaluation:

9. Use a screen reading program (JAWS) or a speaking Web browser (IBM Homepage Reader) with the monitor turned off, to determine the auditory representation of the Web page.

10. Utilize a variety of users, including users with disabilities, to engage in real-world testing of your pages.

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Q2: How do I test my web site for accessibility?

A: Please refer to the CSU Accessible Technology Initiative Section 508 Manual Evaluation Web page. There you’ll find a procedure designed to be used in parallel with an automated accessibility evaluation report produced by HiSoftware.

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Q3: Are PowerPoint files accessible?

A: PowerPoint files are not as accessible as HTML. The only way to ensure that a PowerPoint presentation is truly accessible is to create an HTML alternative instead of or in addition to the PowerPoint file. Visit WebAIM <http://www.webaim.org/techniques/powerpoint/> for details.

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Q4: Are all PDFs accessible?

A: In order for a PDF to be truly accessible two conditions must be met:

  1. The author must create a well structured, correctly tagged, PDF.

  2. The reader must be able to correctly configure their accessibility preferences in Adobe Reader.

Visit WebAIM <http://www.webaim.org/techniques/acrobat/> for details.

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Q5: Is Macromedia Flash content accessible?

A: Yes, provided you apply certain techniques to accommodate the following disabilities:

See WebAIM <http://www.webaim.org/techniques/flash/> for details.

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Q6: How do I get access to HiSoftware Compliance Sheriff?

A: See, Hisoftware Compliance Sheriff.

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Q7: What is web accessibility?

A: Web accessibility, according to CSU Policy, is the application of design principles to make Web sites, Web applications, and Web content usable by persons with disabilities who may be using assistive technologies to access the site.

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Q8: What is the Accessible Technology Initiative?

A: ATI is the California State University system’s effort to implement federal and California law requiring access to technology for students, faculty, staff, and visitors to each campus. The initiative is a collaborative effort at each CSU university to provide access to technology in three major areas: Web accessibility, instructional materials accessibility, and technology procurement. A detailed description and list of resources are available at <http://www.calstate.edu/accessibility>.

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Q9: Why do we have to change the way we do things?

A: Our resources should be available to all individuals, regardless of physical ability. In addition, various mandates have been in place for years to create access, but as technology has advanced and as more instructors have incorporated technology into their teaching, it is now essential that access be provided to these newer instructional materials and methods. In 2003, California state law specifically applied the requirements of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act to the California State University and its campuses (§SB 302, chaptered as Section §11135 of the Government Code).

The federal Rehabilitation Act, as amended, includes Sections 504 and 508. Section 504 requires the university to provide access to its facilities and programs, and Section 508 strengthens requirements to provide equally effective access to electronic and information technology for individuals with disabilities <http://www.section508.gov>. By violating these requirements, researchers risk loosing federally-funded grants.

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Q10: What are the consequences of not changing our practices?

A: The most immediate consequence is that otherwise qualified students with disabilities enrolled at San Diego State University will not receive the access they need to be successful students. At several other CSU campuses, students have filed complaints with the federal Office of Civil Rights because the university failed to provide instructional materials in a timely and accurate manner. The Civil Rights office determined that students with disabilities must be provided access to materials at the same time as other students.

Civil rights complaint investigations and/or litigation are time-consuming and costly for the university. Resources could be better utilized by assuring that a process is in place for provision of timely and accurate materials. In addition, researchers risk loosing federal funds when in violation of Section 508 ordinance.

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Q11: How do I correct the Sec. 508 error, “embed element missing noembed element?”

A: When embedding movie files into your html documents, using the embed tag, you’ll need to specify to the screen reader what that element is, using the noembed element. The rule states, “All embed elements have an associated noembed element that contains a text equivalent to the embed element.”

See the user guide, “Sec. 508 Accessibility Testing, Provide a Text Equivalent for the embed Element [PDF].”

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Q12: Are there Sec. 508 Compliant HTML Coding Conventions to be followed when I develop Web pages for my site?

A: To be ADA Sec. 508 compliant, there are certain required coding conventions to be followed when creating and updating your html files. A discussion of these conventions may be found in the User Guide, “Sec. 508 Compliant HTML Coding Conventions [PDF]”.

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