SF State - Accessible Technology Initiative (ATI)

Image: Photos of the SF State campus and students using a headset, a braille keyboard and a blind cane

Web 2.0 and Accessibility

The term Web 2.0 is used to describe a new generation of websites. Being quite static in the past, nowadays websites are often using interactive, dynamic and responsive features on their website. The user has much more control about the content, the look and the interaction on a web page. Web applications such as networking sites, blogs, virtual worlds and wikis have gained widespread popularity and many educational institutions have started to use them to provide students an enhanced and up-to-date learning experience. Common examples of Web 2.0 sites are Facebook, Blogger, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Second Life.
Whereas the static web already provided some challenges for disabled users, Web 2.0 applications or websites are often very difficult to control by users with assistive technology.
One of the biggest advantages of Web 2.0 applications, the freedom the user has in providing and changing content is also one of the major accessibility problems. The difficulty is to guarantee that if a user uploads a photo, for example, she also provides meaningful alt text.

Main Problems

  1. The user cannot use a page because the interface depends on drag and drop and no keyboard options are provided
  2. The user cannot see if content on the page has been dynamically updated and changed
  3. The user is unable to hear the audio on a page
  4. The user is unable to see the content of a video on a page
  5. The user is unable to operate the controls of video player provided on a page
  6. The user cannot access the information conveyed by images or animations
  7. The user has problems to orient herself on the page
  8. The user has problems to keep pace with content changes
  9. The user cannot access the information and controls in the correct order
  10. The user cannot hear her screen reader because other audio sounds are interfering
  11. The user has problems to log in or/and to use the captcha function

Solutions

  1. Provide access through the keyboard
  2. Inform the user that the page is updated dynamically
  3. Provide audio captions [Learn how to create audio captions]
  4. Provide audio description [Learn how to create audio descriptions]
  5. Use an accessible video player
  6. Provide text equivalents for images and animations
  7. Use structural elements such as headings
  8. Avoid fast content changes and allow user to control content changes
  9. Make sure the reading and tab order follows a logical flow
  10. Make sure audio and video does not auto start if the user arrives at your  page
  11. Make sure the login form elements are correctly labeled. Instead of a captcha use a question/answer solution.
  12. Please read about WAI-ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications). WAI-ARIA is a set of documents and guidelines that help developers make their applications and dynamic pages more accessible to people relying on keyboard access or screen readers.
    More information on Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA).

 

Tested Web 2.0 tools/pages

Facebook

www.facebook.com

Accessibility Report for Facebook

Twitter

www.twitter.com

Accessibility Report for Twitter

Flickr

www.flickr.com

Accessibility Report for Flickr

LinkedIn

Accessibility Report for LinkedIn

 

Resources on Facebook

Facebook works with the blind on accessibility

Resources on Twitter

http://www.accessibletwitter.com

Resources on RSS Feeds

http://speedrssreader.com/10-accessibility-tips-for-rss-feeds

Resources on Flickr

Easy Flickr
Easy Flickr documentation

Resources on YouTube

Easy YouTube
Easy YouTube documentation

Resources on Second Life

http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Accessibility

General Resources on Web 2.0 and accessibility:

http://www.ictknowledgebase.org.uk/web20andaccessibility

Resources on WAI-ARIA

http://www.w3.org/TR/wai-aria
http://dev.opera.com/articles/view/introduction-to-wai-aria

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