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2004: Improving your site's accessibility - experience from creating the BBC Accessibility Standards
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2004: Improving your site's accessibility - experience from creating the BBC Accessibility Standards


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Keynote given by Jonathan Hassell - Editor of Standards & Guidelines for BBC New Media - at CITI 'Accessible to al accessibility event in 2003. Covers: motivations of organisations to be interested in …

Keynote given by Jonathan Hassell - Editor of Standards & Guidelines for BBC New Media - at CITI 'Accessible to al accessibility event in 2003. Covers: motivations of organisations to be interested in accessibility; initial research into accessibility of by System Concepts; examples for where WAI WCAG 1.0 standards didn't do enough to help users (tables) or didn't understand with the needs of broadcasters (video subtitling); recommendations to embed accessibility in culture by educating and motivating production staff.

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  • 1. Improving your site’s accessibility – experience from Dr Jonathan Hassell Editor of Standards & Guidelines BBC New Media Presentation to CITI “Accessible to All” conference12/11/2011 11/12/2011 17/11/04 v0.17-full
  • 2. What I’ll be talking about• similarities/differences from your sites• & accessibility – a brief history• Accessibility as a partnership• Overriding purpose of accessibility• How to change the culture of your production teams / clients• How to channel buy-in into producing a better site – Identification/creation of standards & guidelines (& tools) • incl. examples from standards creation – UCD and user-testing• Other useful additions to your site• Feedback from audiences• Questions12/11/2011 17/11/2004 22 © BBC 2004
  • 3. similarities/differences from the sites you create • Similarities: – must be excellent, user- friendly – must be cost-effective – much use of multimedia • Differences: – for yourself vs. for client – info vs. brochureware – Size: = 2.5m pages – cost – many staff, different locations & production systems – wide audiences/genres – interactivity (communities)12/11/2011 17/11/2004 33 © BBC 2004
  • 4. and accessibility – brief history • BBC long-term commitment to making its output as accessible as possible to all audiences to fulfil its public service remit Experience within the BBC of disability issues – established programmes and audiences from TV and Radio (e.g. See Hear, In Touch), moving towards mainstream First attempts on the web – Betsie: – filter program used to create an automatic text-only version of pages – result of work between RNIB and BBC in 1998 as a result of feedback from screenreader users – made available for other sites’ use (e.g. Newcastle City Council) – BBC News new “low graphic” version of News site (useful for PDAs as well) 12/11/2011 17/11/2004 44 © BBC 2004
  • 5. Accessibility is a partnershipTo make a websiteaccessible, you need all ofthe following to worktogether: Website creators Assistive technology creators (e.g. Freedom Scientific, ReadPlease) Operating system creators (e.g. Microsoft, Apple) Disability assessment agencies (e.g. AbilityNet, RNIB) Browser creators (e.g. Microsoft, Opera) comms via W3C-WAI…12/11/2011 17/11/2004 55 © BBC 2004
  • 6. Purpose of accessibility• Always keep in mind…• the purpose of accessibility is to make things easier for all of your (client’s) audience – start and end with them in mind…• the internet can be a great enabler for disabled people if you use it right 12/11/2011 17/11/2004 66 © BBC 2004
  • 7. How to change the culture of your production teams / clients – awareness, motivation • Start with your staff… then go to your clients… • Make it personal: • Make it real: – get an external agency to do a survey – send all your staff on an of the site’s Accessibility Awareness accessibility, including course video-taping of real users using the site – provide background & – See the Accessibility motivation for staff & clients Study of for (DDA etc. – see Julie Howell’s inspiration (available talk next…) from: – provide experience of commissioning/bbci/w assistive technologies ebsites.shtml) – show the videos of real users having problems using the site 12/11/2011 17/11/2004 77 © BBC 2004
  • 8. How to channel buy-in into producing a better site – standards & guidelines• create/identify accessibility standards & guidelines for your sites – good start: WAI or the BBC Accessibility Standards (from – make sure your standards support your / your clients’ audiences and production processes – get your staff to create them• communicate them well: – make sure your staff understand the standards and are motivated to use them• provide a group/someone who can answer specific accessibility questions as they crop up in practice• whenever possible, encode the standards in your production tools, so that staff cannot get things wrong 12/11/2011 17/11/2004 88 © BBC 2004
  • 9. Standards creation - the discussions and practicalitiesBe pragmatic - for each standard consider…• is it “reasonable”?• benefit: does it actually help disabled audiences? – does it hinder other audiences?• cost: what aspects of production does it affect? – content production systems • can they ensure its consistent application? • will they actually handle it? – manually-coded systems • how can you ensure its consistent application?12/11/2011 17/11/2004 99 © BBC 2004
  • 10. Examples from standards creation (1)• brochureware: to Flash or not to Flash… – do you really need to use Flash? • Flash can be totally inaccessible to screenreader users – but if you need to use it… • use Flash (MX-2004) accessibility features (see omedia/accessibility/features/flash /) • provide a non-Flash alternative version which should have the same content and “fun” 12/11/2011 17/11/2004 10 10 © BBC 2004
  • 11. Examples from standards creation (2)• don’t ghettoise users with “text- only” unless there is no alternative – “text-only” site does nothing to help those with low-vision using screen-magnifiers, or those with hearing impairments – screenreader users would rather use the main site anyway – main site: requirements which can be handled by accessible design and coding – alternative version: requirements where the needs of one disabled group clash with another • text simplification for those with learning difficulties etc. • HTML alternatives to Flash animations/games for screenreader users• remember: the purpose of accessibility is to make things easier for all of your audience 12/11/2011 17/11/2004 11 11 © BBC 2004
  • 12. Examples from standards creation (3)• use of heading tags… – useful for screenreader users – but default visual representation of these wastes screen-estate – solvable using CSS – but, until recently, this was difficult because of our support requirements for older browsers – now being rolled-out across 17/11/2004 12 12 © BBC 2004
  • 13. Examples from standards creation (4)• tables… – tables are more browsable for screenreaders if they are “linear” • which is WAI level 2 – WAI level 1 doesn’t produce “better tables” for screenreader browsing (requires knowledge of special table-browsing mode in JAWS) – example: BBC weather site – before and after… 12/11/2011 17/11/2004 13 13 © BBC 2004
  • 14. Examples from standards creation (5)• editorial/cross- disciplinary standards: – Vocabulary: Plain English vs. language of your audience • e.g. 1Xtra • News – broadsheet or tabloid – “Infoglut: how much should you put on a page? • is this too much information…? • affects users with dyslexia, visual & motor impairments • can depend on design of page, visual definition of sections, editorial proposition etc. 12/11/2011 17/11/2004 14 14 © BBC 2004
  • 15. Examples from standards creation (6)• use of colour… – make sure all info being conveyed with colour is available without colour • colour-blindness ( • e.g. diagrams…• and colour contrast… – restriction/challenge for your designers… 12/11/2011 17/11/2004 15 15 © BBC 2004
  • 16. Examples from standards creation (7)• audio-video content (subtitling)… – any subtitling system must be able to work within the A/V production chain – current BBC prototype reuses existing TV broadcast subtitle files – BBC R&D are also researching methods for providing subtitles for live A/V material• BSL content via video 12/11/2011 17/11/2004 16 16 © BBC 2004
  • 17. Checking it’s a better site – UCD & user-testing • ensure your standards have produced a usable site • listen to real people, rather than automated tools/checklists “These tools are like spell-checkers; you wouldn’t send out a spell-checked document that wasn’t manually proof-read as well” (Bob Regan, Macromedia Accessibility Expert) • create a user testing strategy – … which includes testing of usability and accessibility • and has a number of levels, so it includes appropriate testing for simple page updates to full site tests for new/redesigned sites – even better, adopt User-Centred Design practices and include feedback from disabled users in your design process 12/11/2011 17/11/2004 17 17 © BBC 2004
  • 18. Other useful additions to your siteprovide accessibility help: – include information on: • browser/OS settings • assistive technologies – for inspiration, see: • DRC’s “Access Options” ( asp) • AbilityNet’s “My Computer My Way!” ( – accessibility help for on its way (link from every page)ask for accessibility feedback: – to further inform your understanding of how people really use your website12/11/2011 17/11/2004 18 18 © BBC 2004
  • 19. Feedback from audiences• lots of feedback in the Accessibility Study of (see earlier)• at the BBC, feedback goes with the territory… – examples of feedback from Jaws users: • feedback on a lapse in accessibility of Radio Player – a small tweak to the interface had removed the linearity of the table structure – it was fixed within hours • many messages of thanks for introducing heading tags into the home page – we are now rolling these out across the site – initial results from Usability/Accessibility tests of a new site have been very positive• we expect and welcome more feedback in the future – will be actively seeking it as part of our Accessibility Testing Strategy 12/11/2011 17/11/2004 19 19 © BBC 2004
  • 20. Contact me e: t: @jonhassell w: 12/11/2011 17/11/2004 20 20 © BBC 2004