Friday, May 28, 2010

How's my website accessibility?

Hi, my name is Yair Silbermintz & I'm a Computer Science student at Yeshiva University. I will be interning at ITI as a web developer this summer, focusing on making their website & the websites for their disability initiatives more accessible.

I have to admit, I was a bit weary about taking on this task. Making websites accessible seems easy at first, but if not watched closely a minor oversight in programming or design can lead to major problems. There are plenty of accessibility guides on the web, but they are geared toward government workers and often too dry and technical for a new web developer to read. Even when I did buckle down and look into 508 compliance, what I found was mostly too outdated to apply to the modern interactive web. I quickly became determined to make researching web accessibility issues a prime focus of my internship.

The past few days in D.C. have been extremely interesting. During orientation I had the opportunity to meet many interesting people, including my fellow interns, the AAPD staff, AAPD internship alumni & members, and other people in the disability community. The most interesting portion of the orientation, for me, was an information session on disability rights and history. It started off with an overview of how people with disabilities were treated in the past, went on to cover the disability rights movement, and gradually morphed into an overview of the disability laws currently in force. While this was going on, I was able to keep track of a senate hearing on possible updates to these laws thanks to AAPDs Jenifer Simpson constantly posting updates to twitter (If your interested in what happened at the hearing, you can check out the COAT twitter page or watch an archive video of the hearing). Hearing for the first time about both the efforts originally made and the efforts currently going on for disability rights was particularly inspiring.

I want to end my first post here with a question for anyone who uses assistive technology to view the web. What would you consider the toughest & most common problem you have when trying to use the internet daily? Please post your issues in the comments below, and I will make sure to look into them over the course of my internship.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not sure if this falls under the category of disabled access but I have always been concerned about phone accessibility. I use an old phone browser and many of the web pages I used to view on it are now no longer compatible. Some will try to redirect me to the mobile version which often makes it worse.

    Many sites rely on images which either my phone can't download, or they come out too small to be able to be useful. I have always believed that all images should have proper "alt" tags for many reasons, this being one of them.

    I sometimes even view web pages on my computer with images disabled and many of the pages are impossible to read/navigate without enabling the images. I think that web developers need to test their pages on all browsers including phone browsers and should also test them with images and ads disabled to see how they come out.


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