Everyday brings new challenges. Today I was invited to participate on a panel that was to address A.D.A. Issues and Requirements in distance education. The issue was web accessibility and our responsibilities as educators. The panel was to react to a PBS sponsored video focusing mostly on Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. I was aware of the requirements. I write about the requirements. I know that much of my online content is not in compliance with these requirements for equitable accessibility.
The various positions presented did cause me to think about some of the issues. It seems to me that:
b) I think Internet visibility is forcing compliance considerations when older delivery systems did not receive the same attention. A colleague at the meeting was involved in developing online graduate training for practicing engineers. The goal was to deliver remotely what campus-based graduate students were experiencing in the classroom. The concern was how to caption video materials. Out of curiosity, I asked how they had served remote students before. The reply was that they had taped classes and sent videotapes to off-campus students. The lack of captioning for the tapes had not been considered an issue.
If you are interested in the issues and possible solutions you might consider the following resources:
By the way, those who argue for designing for accessibility do have a great deal to offer all web developers. I have been attempting to learn how to use the Quicktime text track to trigger web page presentations. One of the best tutorials I have located was provided by Aim because the technique can be used to coordinate video with the presentation of text.
Out of curiosity, I wondered if this blog was compliant. I ran it through Bobby – an online resource that will evaluate any URL you care to submit. I was told that this blog was not compliant because I had failed to “Provide alternative text for all images.” I actually knew this was the case, but I just wanted to make sure. I happen to know how to include an alt text label if I were to enter the HTML to present an image by hand. However, I use the automatic link tool provided by Blogger and this tool does not include a way to add “alt text.”
I also find that the techniques I attempt to teach educators produce resources that are not compliant. For example, I encourage educators who want to experiment with web pages to use Microsoft Word to create a a word processor document and then save the document as HTML. This approach is easy to implement and meets the needs of many educators. If the educators decide to include an image, the image is not accompanied by an “alt text label” when converted to HTML.
nProviding alternative text labels for images is probably not even one of the most important issues that must be addressed, but it does make a good example.
So – this issue troubles me. I wish I could say that I see simple solutions.