Need for Web Accessibility in Developing Countries – Yahoo! Initiatives<br /><ul><li>Srinivasu Chakravarthula, Accessibili...
Full Text Need For Web Accessibility In Developing Countries
Full Text Need For Web Accessibility In Developing Countries
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Full Text Need For Web Accessibility In Developing Countries


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Full Text Need For Web Accessibility In Developing Countries

  1. 1. Need for Web Accessibility in Developing Countries – Yahoo! Initiatives<br /><ul><li>Srinivasu Chakravarthula, Accessibility Manager, Yahoo! India R & D</li></ul>It’s great pleasure to talk at this prestigious and unique conference! My name is Srinivasu and I’m Accessibility Manager at Yahoo! India R & D. I work across the teams of Yahoo! to make our products accessible!<br />My objective is to tell you all that Web Accessibility is very important today and particularly for the countries like India where Internet market is growing everyday!<br />For me, Internet is sea of information; there’s probably nothing that we will not find on the World Wide Web. May it be for education, research, education, travel, shopping, music, entertainment, career, matrimony, leisure or anything and users of internet is almost everyone!! An elementary school kid uses internet to find images for his art work, play games, a high school or college student uses it for their project work, a parent use internet to find a better school for their children, teacher uses to creative innovative ideas to share, reach more students remotely, a professional uses it at work for growing their business, a senior citizen uses to communicate with their children living abroad etc. Among these section of people, there would be huge number of people with disabilities who rely on assistive technologies to access the web. <br />As per survey by Miniwatts Marketing group, during 2009 Q2 there are about 704 million Internet users in Asia and now let’s talk about some facts about people with disabilities; As per WHO, there are about 700 million people with disabilities and in India alone, there are around 70 million and thanks to the rapid development in the area of assistive technologies, most of them would be able to use computers and Internet. <br />A disability is something that a person fail to perform a task due to certain physical / situational limitations; can it be temporary or permanent and can happen by birth or due to an accident. I see disabilities into two categories i.e. Situational and functional. Situation disability is something like your mouse may stop working or the text on the book you are reading may be too small to read. <br />As per functional disability, there are mainly visual impairment, mobility, hearing and learning disabilities. There could also be people with multiple disabilities. <br />As mentioned earlier, people with disabilities can use computer and internet with the help of assistive technologies like a blind person uses a screen reader, a low vision person sues a screen magnifier, a mobility impaired user uses an alternate input device like trackball, switch or a learning disabled user uses a large image based input devices. A person who is deaf blind can use a refreshable braile display to use the computer. I think, all of you must have browsed the exhibition and saw most of these gadgets and software.<br />Let me tell you that actually, Internet is more useful to people with disabilities particularly who has problem in travelling; let’s see a couple of users who love Internet.<br />Deepa, works for EMC Square – a wheel chair user, uses on screen keyboard and track ball and she is a fantastic Graphic and Web designer. She does an amazing job. But she says there is a great need of better voice recognition software. <br />Meet my colleague Artur Ortega, who is an accessibility evangelist and developer at Yahoo!, he says that Internet creates new opportunities and full new independency for persons with disabilities but he fails to see most of the websites are today are not accessible and only a few companies like Yahoo! are striving to create Web 2.0 applications that are accessible. <br />Let me brief you about some of the initiatives that Yahoo! takes up to create inclusive world! <br />Yahoo! cares for accessibility, because, we are a global company, around 600 million users visit Yahoo! every month, world wide, approximately, 200 million users visit our portals related to emerging markets like Locals, Cricket etc, and in India alone, approximately, 76 million users visit portals related to emerging markets, Yahoo! presence includes, news, finance, mail, answers, travel, autos, entertainment, movies, careers, weather, social, education and much more. We believe, there is a huge number our visitors who uses assistive technologies to access our portals. <br />We think for all and we sensitize and train our teams to ensure we design inclusive products and steps are in progress; Currently, if you look at, our home page, search, mail classic are fairly accessible and portals like cricket, careers are in progress. <br />We have two accessibility labs located at Sunnyvale and Bangalore; efforts are underway to establish a lab in our London office. Our Accessibility labs are equipped with Here’s our team – Alan and Sandeep is our leaders who support a lot for accessibility and help us when we need and Victor is an amazing colleague who is passionate and who initiated accessibility efforts at Yahoo! – me and my another colleague from London Artur, who we spoke a while ago.<br />In addition, we have a group of enthusiasts individuals from different departments like Quality Engineering, UED, Front End Engineering and SEO as part of an Accessibility Task Force and a Special Interest group. Thus enable us to create more awareness across the company. Plus our Learning & Development team is a great source of encouragement for us to organize wide range trainings and events related to accessibility. We have included a session disability and accessibility during new hire orientation to sensitize our new colleagues.<br />Consider to address an issue at the design stage itself is always better than trying to address the issue after the product release. We believe, if we consider accessibility right at the wire frame stage and keep the process through helps us to bring innovative and accessible products. At Yahoo! we the design, content, SEO and Accessibility teams work together since all these four areas are inter linked. For instance, heading tags are useful for a screen reader user to navigate easily as well heading tags are important for search engines too. Like Assistive Technologies rely on the code, search engines rely on code too. We do reviews right at the wire frame stage, at ID, Visual mocks and work very closely with development team. <br />What else we do at Accessibility team and GATF? We conduct user studies to see what our user needs are and what they would be happy for. We visit different organizations working in the area of disabilities to conduct the studies and we also, involve different people with disabilities during our testing process so as to ensure our product works for all. Our team play an innovative role evangelize accessibility both at Yahoo! and outside. Always, we will make sure that people feel the need for accessibility and also, it’s so simple to integrate. <br />We endeavor to design and develop our products to meet WCAG requirements; to achieve this, we put lots of efforts like implementation of ARIA for dynamic modules like you could see in Yahoo! Search results page as well as in Yahoo! Mail Classic. We have just started our efforts in the area of closed captioning to make our muoltimedia products like Yahoo! Movies accessible. In addition, there’s lot of accessibility effort has been put in for Yahoo! User Interface (YUI) componants like you could see accessible drop down menus that are ARIA implemented. Also, we have implemented Audio CAPTCHA as an alternative to visual verification for the benefit of vision impaired people and for those who may be deaf blind can reach out to our customer care for assistance. <br />Let me talk a bit about Accessibility Testing; We do both automated and manual testing. There are plenty of automated testing tools like WAVE and plugins for Firefox. They are pretty simple to use and helps you to identified most of the accessibility errors. Also, there are tools to verify if the colors used are accessible and have enough contrast. <br />Having said that, it’s equally important to do a manual testing and this can be effectively done by people with disabilities who actually use the assistive technologies. <br />Before I end, let me tell you a bit about our outreach programs. We conduct Accessibility Workshops both by invite and in partnership with other organizations. Yahoo! organizes hack weeks every year and we always make sure to include an accessibility session for hackers before the actual hack get going!<br />Thanks again Techshare organizers and Shilpi in particular and congratulations to the entire team for this great event. <br />Thank you. <br />