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August 2003
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August Weblog

August 29, 2003

Gez Lemon from Juicy Studio recently created an Assistive Device Behaviour Chart. It outlines the Web standards supported by various assistive Web technology. Gez encourages those familiar with assistive devices to contact him so the chart can become more comprehensive. It's already useful, but with your help it could become an invaluable resource for Web developers!

August 27, 2003

Lots of people are talking about it, but I have to give the hat tip to Christopher Schmitt, who was the first one to tell me about the upcoming release of Macromedia's new software. Eric Meyer (who is quoted in Macromedia's news release) wrote about it. gives an overview of the additions to Macromedia Studio MX 2004. Below is what Christopher wrote about it:

Macromedia announced Studio MX 2004, new versions to their popular Web and interactive set of applications. Included in the updated line of applications includes improved accessibility support for their professional Web-editing software, Dreamweaver, and vector-based interface and animation tool, Flash.

In Dreamweaver MX 2004, Cascading Style Sheets is now an integral part of the workflow in creating Web sites makes it easier for Web developers to create accessible sites. (When used properly, CSS can still added the visual presentation that designers want while opening up the content to be properly structured for screen readers and other devices.)

CSS is now at the forefront for site wide designs, instead of being presented simply as a replacement for font tags. Gone are the days of hunting and pecking CSS properties in an overbearing dialog box in previous versions of Dreamweaver. Through property inspector palettes, you can easily modify CSS properties and values or, if you are up to speed, you can modify the raw CSS directly.

In Flash MX 2004, Macromedia has added an extension layer to their popular tool making it possible for third-party companies to provide plugins for the application. Macromedia announced that HiSoftware will provide a captioning software tool for Flash, which has been a failing in the tool thus far.

August 15, 2003

Need to find out if a visually-impaired person can really use the site you worked so hard to make "accessible"? The Yahoo Group uvip-web-test was created to achieve this goal. It's by subscription only, and I just subscribed, (membership still pending). I'm eager to find out how useful this email list is. Abstract accessibility standards aren't enough. Developers and designers focused on Web accessibility need to connect with real users who are affected by accessibility issues. I hope this email list will help to do that.

August 11, 2003

British government recently released the Quality Framework for UK Government Website Design guidelines (PDF) that contains advice about improving Web site usability and accessibility. In the wake of its release, several articles remind us that there may not be enough funds available to ensure existing (and future) sites will comply with the government's recently released recommendations and other (disability) laws. Unfortunately, the costs to comply may be too great for some government entities to absorb.

August 4, 2003

Top UK airlines Web sites fail to meet minimum accessibility standards. AbilityNet evaluated nine airlines' Web sites. Their report (PDF format) focused on how accessible the sites would be to visually impaired users, dyslexic users, or users who have difficulty using a mouse. Not only do these inaccessible sites drive away potential customers, they also risk being sued under the UK Disability Discrimination Act. Let this serve as another reminder that accessibility makes good business sense.

August 1, 2003

The second annual U.S. Congressional Web Accessibility Day was July 22, 2003. While some Congressional Web sites are more accessible today than they were in the past, Congress is not required to comply with Section 508. Some accessibility advocates and members of Congress are trying to change that. Representative Jim Langevin, (Democrat from Rhode Island), drafted legislation to expand coverage of Section 508. It'll be interesting to see if the legislation can gather the money and support it needs to effect a real change.