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  1. #1
    _ silver trophy ses5909's Avatar
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    Notice: This is a discussion thread for comments about the SitePoint article, Section 508: Uncle Sam's Guide To Web Accessibility.
    __________

    Nice article. If you are developing is there a place to go through the government to get it "certified" as section 508 compliant? Or do you know if there is a tool that you can crawl a site that has most of the pages behind a login?

    This is all of interest to me as I was just tasked to create a section 508 compliant site for the USDA and am in the learning process now.

  2. #2
    phpLD Fanatic bronze trophy dvduval's Avatar
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    Interesting. I can't say that I have spent enough time over the years working on this. I'm wondering if this is something that is more important to larger sites, or if there are smaller site owners that also spend a lot of time working with accessibility. For me, I just try to go through and make sure my html validates every so often, and also write good alt tags for the more important images when I remember to do that.

    But there is so far to go on this. Think of this forum that is running vbulletin...
    If we submit an image in a post, how can we add an alt attribute?
    (I don't believe we can)

  3. #3
    SitePoint Wizard Stomme poes's Avatar
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    Were I tasked to build a section(508) compliant site, I would build the site ust in the normal way I do (there was nothing new to me in the article, except the necessity to add a link to where one can download a plugin) and then go over the (508) spec itself and check my site by it, making sure I didn't forget something. I'm a little surprised it didn't mention the "accessibility" panel that's now in Flash (for text versions) though that might have been because many web developers may be given the Flash and not have the fla, only the swf file.

    One of the tools not listed in the article but kinda similar to Visicheck (which I also use) that I've started using is Mike's GrayBit. It still needs some work, as scripts and wrapped-up-with-negative-margins sidebars can have trouble, but it's a nice contrast checker.

    ses, there used to be an online checker.. I think it was called Bobby but is offline now. Cynthia Says might no longer be available either but it's a rather robotic checker. Robots can't check that your page is accessible, but it can check for mistakes and omissions.

    There are plenty of US government sites that are terrible as far as general accessibility (they may be plenty accessible to say screen readers and non-disabled visitors, but nobody else like Grandma). I can't say I'm terribly impressed with the michigan.gov site. It could be done better.

  4. #4
    I Never Give Up roosevelt's Avatar
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    Very resourceful article, will come handy when I get a state job :p

  5. #5
    Steve Howard
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    I've long been irritated by the fact that Section 508 and other parallel laws and guidelines always refer to this subject as 'accessibility'. This gives rise to a general feeling that the whole point is to make things easier for visually impared visitors, when the reality is that it's targeted at people who have all sorts of reasons for finding computer-delivered material difficult to view or interact with, for e.g.

    - poor or no sight
    - colour blindness
    - inability to use a keyboard or mouse whether through damaged or missing limbs, poor coordination or paralysis etc.

    and the list goes on ...

    I much prefer to talk about *usability*, because Section 508 and others do not just talk about alt tags, text alternatives and colour choice, they also refer to providing keyboard shortcuts, allowing for alternative input devices (e.g. drag/drop interactions should be solvable by keyboard or ather input devices) etc. etc. All of these result in a web site or application that is actually more usable to people who have no impairments when using a computer.

    Approaching accessibility as usability avoids arguments such as "but we don't have any blind/visually impaired/deaf employees so we don't need to care, do we?"

  6. #6
    Bohdan Ganicky
    SitePoint Community Guest
    "If you need to limit a table header to fit information onto a page, consider using the abbr attribute on the th element to display a shorter alternative."

    What do you mean by this? Let me cite from the Sitepoint's HTML Ref for an abbr attribute :

    "The abbr attribute is another one that makes no visual difference to the table and its contents but, like the table's summary attribute, provides additional information that may be useful for people accessing the content using assistive technology, such as a screen reader."

  7. #7
    Mouse catcher silver trophy Stevie D's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Howard View Post
    I much prefer to talk about *usability*, because Section 508 and others do not just talk about alt tags, text alternatives and colour choice, they also refer to providing keyboard shortcuts, allowing for alternative input devices (e.g. drag/drop interactions should be solvable by keyboard or ather input devices) etc. etc. All of these result in a web site or application that is actually more usable to people who have no impairments when using a computer.

    Approaching accessibility as usability avoids arguments such as "but we don't have any blind/visually impaired/deaf employees so we don't need to care, do we?"
    There is a difference between accessibility and usability, although they do overlap and have a lot of things in common.

    For example, alt attributes have pretty much no effect on usability (other than improving accuracy in SERP), but are essential for accessibility. Likewise other aspects of correctly using HTML elements such as headings, strong/em vs b/i - on a well-designed website, these will make next to no difference for most people, but are nevertheless absolutely critical for accessibility.

    My worry is that if you focus on usability as a holistic approach, you could make significant improvements to the general usability but end up ignoring or missing the accessibility side of things. If all you're going for is how to make the site easier to use for Joe Average, how are you going to sell the idea of alt text, skip links and semantic HTML?

    Everyone needs to understand that websites have to be made to work in all situations, for all people. As more phones/mobile browsers are becoming more sophisticated, that is an ever weaker argument. At one time, you could say "if you don't do this, your website won't work for people using WAP", but now they'll pull out an iPhone and it will probably be fine...

  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard Stomme poes's Avatar
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    "If you need to limit a table header to fit information onto a page, consider using the abbr attribute on the th element to display a shorter alternative."

    What do you mean by this? Let me cite from the Sitepoint's HTML Ref for an abbr attribute :

    "The abbr attribute is another one that makes no visual difference to the table and its contents but, like the table's summary attribute, provides additional information that may be useful for people accessing the content using assistive technology, such as a screen reader."
    Yes, meaning someone took long header text (which maybe was too long to fit in a narrow table) and abbreviated it. To ensure that everyone knows what these abbreviations mean, the full text can be stuffed into <abbr> tags.

    Though I'll admit the wording is a bit bad, the abbr tag itself doesn't make your header shorter, it merely allows you to have/write/make a shorter header while giving full meaning to everyone except IE6 and under users.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ses5909 View Post
    If you are developing is there a place to go through the government to get it "certified" as section 508 compliant?
    I donít know, but I do know if you have followed the W3C guidelines on accessibility then you can add a badge declaring the w3c level of accessibility you are complying to.

    http://www.w3.org/WAI/WCAG1-Conformance

  10. #10
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    Well, you're right. But I was talking about the abbr attribute (which was mentioned in the article) not the <abbr> element. And the Reference is quite clear here, I mean that there shouldn't be any visual difference whether the abbr attribute was used or not. Therefore the table won't be any narrower in the end.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by besh View Post
    Well, you're right. But I was talking about the abbr attribute (which was mentioned in the article) not the <abbr> element. And the Reference is quite clear here, I mean that there shouldn't be any visual difference whether the abbr attribute was used or not. Therefore the table won't be any narrower in the end.
    I think you are right, the abbr attribute helps people using assistive technologies such as screen readers by reading out a shorter th than the standard th, but it doesnít make the columns narrower.

    (example from SitePoint reference)
    HTML Code:
    <th scope="col" abbr="Make">Car manufacturer (make)</th>
    Using the abbr element you can make the rows narrower by making an abbreviation such as:

    HTML Code:
    <th scope="col"><abbr title="intermediate">int.</abbr></th>

  12. #12
    Pragmatic Programmer halfasleeps's Avatar
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    What if your flash application isn't to give information, but to allow a user to customize a product? If there isn't any way to do it other than through an RIA is this against the law?

  13. #13
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy cydewaze's Avatar
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    Good article, and I'm glad to see 508 getting more exposure.

    Working at a US Government agency, everything I do has to stand up to section 508 scrutiny. But the big problem is when we contract web jobs out, then have to spend hours (days even) "fixing" them so that they're 508 compliant. The more people know about 508, the better.

  14. #14
    SitePoint Wizard Stomme poes's Avatar
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    Um, if the law says sites must be section 508 compliant, then you need to outsource with that requirement. No way should you be wasting taxpayer money (lawlz) fixing what should have been done right in the first place! If a company says they can build a web project for you, tell them they'd better do it legally!

    Hoping they'll hear the news hasn't done anything in... how long has section 508 been in the books? And don't people still ignore it?

  15. #15
    Reem
    SitePoint Community Guest
    It`s very good.....
    and thank you so much for this information, also I hope we all learn about this designing.

    see you soon.
    NoNa

  16. #16
    Holly
    SitePoint Community Guest
    I work as a contractor on sites for government clients. Our problem is understanding what the agency wants. We know what 508-compliance means, but our clients don't. Project officers have had the requirement that their information be 508-compliant drilled into their heads -- perhaps for fear of lawsuits -- but they do not know what it means. Also, different government agencies have different ideas about how compliance -- how you describe a complex image, for instance. ACF may want a summary in the title attribute whereas HRSA wants a [d] link. It's quite maddening... In our world, we're the ones that have to "fix" things. Yes, your tax dollars at work. One day the government might have all agencies on the same page with specific guidelines, but until then, we fight the good fight and try to educate our clients one-by-one. Thanks for the article.

  17. #17
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    Smile

    Very resourceful article, and thank you so much for this information!

  18. #18
    Rita
    SitePoint Community Guest
    I am writing my dissertation on "
    Integration of Section 508 into e-Learning. I am having problem finding problems and issue erncountered with 5o8. What are best practices for when integrating Section 508 inot elearning.

    Rita Colbert
    rhendricks@sigmatech,com


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