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July 2008
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July Weblog

July 30, 2008

AT&T's National Center for Customers with Disabilities (NCCD) is extending their Text Accessibility Plan (TAP) to the iPhone. This plan is intended for users with hearing or speech impairment. The plan includes pay-per-minute voice calls and unlimited text messaging, web browsing and email. You have to sign up for a standard iPhone service plan and then apply and qualify for this plan. It's an additional, manual step that is worth the effort if it means you can drop the voice plan you wouldn't use anyway (an extra $40 or more each month).

July 21, 2008

I'm thrilled to see the W3C writing about something I've espoused since 2002 when I contributed to a mobile Web style guide. There's a Relationship Between Mobile Web and Web Content Accessibility. The Mobile and Web Accessibility Working Groups are early in the process, but their direction is promising. One nice, immediate benefit is they updated their guide to developing a business case for Web accessibility. This little gem is a handy outline that provides suggestions on social, financial, technical, and legal factors that may compel your organization to develop accessible Web sites (assuming they aren't already).

July 17, 2008

If I had departments on my site, this would be listed under "Cleaning up other people's messes". IBM is taking an open source approach to solving the problem of inconsistent or absent Web site accessibility. The IBM Social Accessibility Project provides extensions for the JAWS screen reader and Firefox browser. Here's how they work together: visually impaired users with the JAWS extension installed can submit a request for missing or incomplete information on a site and volunteers running the Firefox extension can lookup that information and submit it as page metadata. There are no changes made to the affected site, but the submitted metadata will be available as supplemental information to any visually impaired user who runs the JAWS extension. Users can comment on and further refine the metadata. The functionality primarily addresses alt text, headings, and form field labels--the big problems. Additional details are covered in IBM's FAQ, including how to start using the software. Keep in mind that it's an early version and hopefully a (relatively) short-term solution.

July 8, 2008

Adobe Flash files now can be better indexed by search engines. My reaction is: what took so long? Flash has become increasingly accessible since Flash MX came out in like 2004. The text equivalents and other descriptive and contextual cues that are needed by disabled users should also be useful to search engines. Given the desire by online businesses and advertisers to make Flash more SEO-friendly, I'm surprised we didn't see this released before (or released with) Flash accessibility. The devil must be in the (technical) details. It's a welcomed, if overdue, addition.