The Web Standards Project » CMS Working together for standards Fri, 01 Mar 2013 18:30:30 +0000 en hourly 1 UK government accessibility consultation Sun, 04 Nov 2007 20:09:31 +0000 blawson The UK government has issued a consultation document on Delivering Inclusive Websites.

It’s not finalised, as the consultation doesn’t end until November 13 (my birthday, by the way …) but in its current state it’s not a bad document; it rehashes PAS 78, recognises that the only way to find out if a website is accessible is to test it and it says that the minimum acceptable level of accessibility is Level-AA of WCAG 1.0—so valid, semantic code becomes mandatory:

The minimum level of accessibility for all Government websites is Level Double-A of the W3C guidelines. Any new site approved by the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Public Engagement and the Delivery of Service must conform to these guidelines from the point of publication.

Continuing standalone sites must achieve this level of accessibility by December 2008. Websites which fail to meet the mandated level of conformance shall be subject to the withdrawal process for domain names…

If these requirements are ever policed (and there’s no guarantee; UK government websites have a sorry track-record), there are huge ramifications for their suppliers. For example, those who manufacture Content Management Systems will be required to ensure that their products produce valid, semantic code and comply with authoring tool accessibility guidelines (ATAG) so that members of staff with disabilities can publish with them:

In order to build an accessible website, authoring tools must produce content that upholds web content accessibility standards. This is especially important if the organisation will be using a Content Management System (CMS) to produce content automatically. This must be taken into account during the procurement of authoring tools and CMS.

So that content authoring is possible for people with the widest range of abilities, it is also important that the interface to the content authoring tools or CMS is also accessible. Accessibility criteria must therefore be specified in the choice and procurement of these systems, in the same way that accessibility is taken into account when commissioning websites.

I confess that I’m rather sceptical that this will see a dramatic change in governmental websites, but it does give an indication that the more clued-up people in the UK government understand that grudging compliance with WCAG 1.0 level A does not constitute “accessibility”.

It should also cause a few discussions within vendor organisations. Microsoft have been commendably open in a discussion about Sharepoint 2007, acknowledging that it won’t be WCAG level A or ATAG-compliant out of the box until the next release in 2009 or 2010.

How many other CMS vendors can really claim to be ATAG-compliant or produce valid code without significant customisation?

(This article translated into Polish by Sebastian Snopek.)

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Accessibility Webcast on Plone Sat, 02 Sep 2006 20:00:32 +0000 hmkoltz Is your web development department or IT staff looking at or working with content management systems(CMS)? Are you evaluating open source content management systems? On August 30, 2006, The National Center on Access and Education (NCDAE) hosted the informative Webcast: NCDAE Webcast Accessibility and the Open Source Content Management Movement.

Education communities are giving open source content management systems, and course management systems, much attention. As the cost of proprietary systems soar, some eye open source solutions. However, the same requirements must be in place for accessibility in these systems, as with any other tool. Is it really possible to have hundreds of developers adding new functions into a system in a way that leads to accessibility?

Panelists for this webcast included: Cynthia Rowland and Jonathan Whiting of NCDAE speaking with Alexander Limi, a founder of the content management system Plone. The webcast consists of discussion and questions about content management, course management, and the open source movement with a focus on Plone as a case study of one open source system that is offering exciting changes with respect to accessibility. The conversation includes background information, challenges, and what more is needed for continued improvements and growth with the open source software. Questions asked were gathered before the webcast, and others were submitted through the website from the listening audience.

Plone is not the only software solution making improvements. Information about several other systems can be found at the center’s NCDAE fact sheet detailing accessibility in Content Management Systems.

The open source movement for content management software is gaining attention and growing. Course management software is a specialized sub area of content management and in Plone an area that is rapidly developing. Plone’s increased accessibility is directly related to its strong support for web standards. Volunteers and developers from the community are sharing and helping to improve software at faster rates than proprietary closed systems can make changes. More and more institutions are leaving proprietary solutions behind, some because of costs, and others because of the inflexibility of proprietary systems. Many developers who modify open source software are often contributing modifications, changes, and or improvements back to the open source community which in turn allows others to build, maintain, and or extend upon those contributed improvements.

At about 15 minutes, and 40 seconds into the webcast, Cynthia asks Alexander why accessibility was a goal for Plone. Alexander replies:

Essentially it started when we started the project itself, we had a very strict adherence to standards because we were tired of systems that were using invalid HTML and not using CSS for presentation … it started gradually as a byproduct of that … which for us it was not really that hard for us to comply with accessibility guidelines, because that’s the way we wrote it in the first place.

The webcast is available at the NCDAE Webcasts page, and offered in Windows Media and Quicktime formats. Transcripts will be available soon.

The NCDAE would like those interested in management systems to visit the developing fact sheet on the Content Management Systems & Accessibility page and invites visitors to ask questions or leave comments, links, workarounds, and or other resources that may be useful. The fact sheet page topics currently include:

  • Guidelines for Choosing a CMS
  • Open Source and Commercial Tools (strengths and weaknesses)
  • Techniques to Improve CMS Accessibility
  • Resources for Popular Content Management Systems
  • Increasing Accessibility through Procurement Policy

Additional Related Links:

We would like to hear how you are working with content management, accessibility, and standards compliance.

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