Facebooks Makes Web Accessibility A Secondary Priority

The Facebook Gift Shop is a page where you can purchase little profile widgets for $1 a piece and send them to your friends.   It has become apparently quite popular among Facebook users.

According to a recent Facebook blog post, they’ve recently received lots of user complaints that the Gift Shop isn’t accessible to blind users.  The Facebook team inturn decided to launch a screen reader accessible version of the site.

From the blog post, it seems that Facebook has the delusion that visual disabilities, particularly blindness, is the only thing they need to pay attention to.  We know this isn’t the case.  If you make you Web site accessible, users with different disabilities will be able to access the Web page.

Facebook’s first reaction to an inaccessible page isn’t to make the primarily used page accessible.  They make an alternative version of the page.  Who wants to have to use an alternative version of the page?  Didn’t we learn a long time ago that “separate but equal” is a fallacy?

Also… What does it say that Facebook users have to bring to their attention the fact that their page is inaccessible?  Is accessibility checking not part of the development qa process?

So is accessibility a priority of Facebook or not?

If it is, Facebook should post a Web Accessibility commitment statement so we know what to expect.

WWW2007: Michael Cooper on “Accessibility Practices for Rich Internet Applications”

Note: These are rough notes from the WWW2007 conference.

Assistive technologies are tools that PWD use.  They transform content, accept input from alternative devices, and require particular semantics.

There aren’t enough semantics in todays languages.  Things other then links and forms need tab order.  Some of these issues have been caused by AJAX and flash.

One practice is to make sure keyboard support is available.  You need to be able to navigate through elements by giving them focus.  Users with disabilities don’t often seen a whole page.  They need to be able to get to another part of a page.

AT needs to be able to gain access to complex widgets, like tree controls, grids, and menus.

AT needs to know about the classic organization of the page, like sections, headers, and groupings.

There needs to be a way to know that content has been updated.   The users should be updated in an effective but non-obtrusive way.

There needs to be a way to identify widgets.

A WaSP Interview with W3C’s Judy Brewer on the Status of WCAG 2.0

The W3C‘s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 are going to be a great step towards making it easier for people to make Web sites accessible to people with disabilities.

The questions that have been on everybodys mind about WCAG 2.0 are, “When will WCAG 2.0 be finally done? Will normal people be able to read it? How can I better keep track of whats going on with WCAG 2.0 or maybe even get involved?”

W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) Director Judy Brewer recently did an interview with Jared Smith of the Web Standards Project (WaSP) Accessibility Task Force.

Have you read the interview? What are your thoughts on WCAG 2.0?

W3C Update on WCAG 2.0

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has just put out an important update on their Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.

As of the end of March 2007, the Working Group has addressed most of the 900 comments from the Last Call Review Period. The Working Group is currently working on:

  • Discussing open comments and issues, and integrating resolutions
  • Developing additional techniques for how to meet the guidelines
  • Simplifying the language
  • Improving the usability of the WCAG 2.0 documents

The Working Group plans to finish addressing most of the issues and provide updated Public Working Drafts of WCAG 2.0 and the supporting documents in late April or May 2007. This will provide an opportunity to review how previous comments have been addressed.

After that, the Working Group expects to make additional minor edits and address any new comments, then publish a second WCAG 2.0 Last Call Working Draft for review of the completed edits before moving on to the next stages.

WCAG 2.0 will be an important tool for us to use to make better Web sites. It is something thats important to pay attention to.

Speaking on a Web Accessibility Panel at the Washington DC Public Library

I’m going to be speaking on a panel on Web Accessibility for a brownbag lunch series at the Washington DC Public Library. It is open to the public. Everyone should come. It sounds like it will be a fun event.

Here is the text of the announcement.

Is your website accessible? Would you like to learn how to make it
accessible? Bring your brown bag lunch to a panel discussion and
networking session on Web Accessibility at the Martin Luther King
Jr. Memorial Library on February 21st, 2007, from 11:30 am to
1:30pm in room A5. The purpose of the program is to educate
librarians, information technology services staff, and other
interested parties about web accessibility. The discussion will be

The panel will include:

Preety Kumar, CEO of Deque Systems, a Reston, Va., company that
helps Web site designers automate the task of complying with
accessibility standards,

A Web Accessibility Expert from the National Federation of the
Blind (NFB) in Baltimore, Maryland.

Marcia Harrington, chief, Adult Literacy Resource Center, Martin
Luther King Jr. Memorial Library

And possibly others.

What: Program on Web Accessibility
Brown Bag Lunch, Talk and Networking Session

When: 11:30am-1:30pm, Wednesday, February 21st

Where: Room A5
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library
901 G Street NW
Washington DC, 20001

Deque Systems
National Federation of the Blind Web Accessibility
DCPL MLK Adult Literacy Resource Center

Sponsored by the
Adaptive Services Interest Group (ASIG) of the
District of Columbia Library Association (DCLA)

Please RSVP to:
Patrick Timony
Adaptive Technology Coordinator
Adaptive Services Division
District of Columbia Public Library