Working together for standards The Web Standards Project


Calling all Assistive Technology vendors

By Derek Featherstone | August 25th, 2006 | Filed in Accessibility TF, Web Standards (general)

WaSP issues an open invitation to work with Assistive Technology vendors to help ensure greater support for standards-based web development techniques in software that enables access for millions of people worldwide.

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When the Accessibility Task Force (ATF) was formed, we received feedback from designers and developers about their desire for better standards support in assistive technology.

Today, we announce the launch of the ATF’s Assistive Technology Initiative. We are issuing an open offer to assistive technology vendors to work with WaSP (and other groups where appropriate) to help ensure that assistive technology can benefit from a web standards-based approach to web development, design and programming.

By working together:

  • we will provide resources to examine and address perceived shortfalls in current assistive technology
  • we will help with developing test suites for use in assessing/addressing these issues
  • we will share our knowledge and expertise and help AT vendors share their extensive knowledge of their users with web developers and designers around the world

Web standards have always aimed to make the web a better place for all people, regardless of ability, and we hope that our collective efforts will help fulfill that promise.

We have begun the process of delivering this open invitation to Assisitive Technology vendors at conferences, trade shows, and industry exhibits, and will continue to invite those involved in building AT software and hardware to collaborate.

To work with us contact us: public@webstandards.org

Your Replies

#1 On August 25th, 2006 10:59 am Ted Drake replied:

Dont’ forget to include Apple in your testing. Their voice-over has the potential of making Apple the platform of choice for the sight disabled.

#2 On August 25th, 2006 1:24 pm WaSP Member feather replied:

Don’t forget to include Apple in your testing

But of course, Ted. You can count on it!

#3 On August 25th, 2006 3:41 pm David Joseph replied:

Excellent, I’m so glad this is happening for all we all (justifiably or not) complain about IE, Screen readers (and other assistive technology) fall so short of any standards or standardisation its really difficult to judge how to help them (when trying to do something complex or potentially usefull to most such as dare I say it Ajax) it means that its just not possible to do certain things (if you care to cater for everyone) at times. This can (I hope) help tremendously

#4 On August 26th, 2006 8:39 am WaSP Member hmkoltz replied:

Dont forget to include Apple in your testing.

It would be nice to see an updated report targeting a variety of users for the three operating systems: Apple, Linux, and Windows.

Linux, for many years, has had available extra support for speech technologies, via Emacspeak with full support for Aural stylesheets. More recently available is Emapspeak, a Google Map screen reading application which uses Google’s embedded XML metadata to deliver the map content. These technologies are open source and could be useful for more than one accessibility user group. Microsoft offers some accessibility features and there are many other accessibility options available to use with the Microsoft Windows operating system. Apple offers some improved accessibility features, and seems more may be coming.

A few related links:

#5 On August 26th, 2006 8:44 am WaSP Member hmkoltz replied:

Nice work on the launch, ATF. Looking forward to the progress and improvements.

#6 On August 26th, 2006 5:41 pm Accessify: latest news / Web Standards Project Accessibility Task Force: Calling all Assistive Technology vendors replied:

[...] Web Standards Project Accessibility Task Force: Calling all Assistive Technology vendors WaSP ATF issues an invitation to AT vendors: When the Accessibility Task Force (ATF) was formed, we received feedback from designers and developers about their desire for better standards support in assistive technology. Today, we announce the launch of the ATF’s Assistive Technology Initiative. We are issuing an open offer to assistive technology vendors to work with WaSP (and other groups where appropriate) to help ensure that assistive technology can benefit from a web standards-based approach to web development, design and programming. By working together: [...]

#7 On August 27th, 2006 4:41 pm Jan Brašna replied:

It is great to see a movement like this. Finally. After various talks at this year’s @media in London I found out that I was right with the idea that AT is pretty way behind today’s needs. Good luck with the effort!

BTW as Tomas Caspers told me Solaris has a similar potential as OS X here – a great screen reader built in the system. I’m currently working from my ILG position on providing better communication between Sun and WaSP ATF with the hope we can eventually have better results.

#8 On August 29th, 2006 4:23 pm Accessibility: standards versus testing — lucid plot replied:

[...] The recent launch of WaSP’s Assistive Technology Initiative is a positive step, but it needs to be accompanied by pressure. A good way to exert this pressure would be to continue the use of innovative techniques like image replacement and Ajax, making sure that we follow standards, but not insisting on 100% interoperability with assistive technology, if we can show that a lack of standards-compliance is the cause. The WCAG 2 debacle demonstrates that vendors don’t always act in the interests of the web and its users. If we want to stand up for accessibility, we need to show that we can still sting. [...]

#9 On September 4th, 2006 9:22 am Britney Simpsons Blog » Calling all Assistive Technology vendors replied:

[...] Calling all Assistive Technology vendors [...]

#10 On September 5th, 2006 10:06 am isaac replied:

I hope the collaboration will include plans to make Ajax applications accessible. Basically there should be a consistent way to let the user know something has been updated, and what has changed.

#11 On October 30th, 2006 2:43 pm nickh replied:

It would be quite nice if they (the assistive technologies) could utilise the accessibility features that are coded in, as defined by the w3c. I was shocked the other day on testing in jaws 6 just how many semantic tags were ignored.

Title attributes, unless you know how to turn them on, are ignored by default. It makes it more difficult to argue for fuller semantic mark-up if even the systems we are trying to support don’t recognise our efforts.

#12 On November 3rd, 2006 3:09 pm WaSP Member feather replied:

It would be quite nice if they (the assistive technologies) could utilise the accessibility features that are coded in, as defined by the w3c. I was shocked the other day on testing in jaws 6 just how many semantic tags were ignored.

Hi nickh – I’m curious – what are the specific semantic tags that were ignored in Jaws 6? While Freedom Scientific is currently working on newer releases of Jaws, it might be helpful to know if there was something specific that was unsupported in older versions.

Thanks! Derek.

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