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Developing government web accessibility guidelines and a web accessibility culture

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Good web accessibility relies on more than solid web accessibility guidelines. In this case study we give an overview of a project in which national accessibility guidelines and related documents …

Good web accessibility relies on more than solid web accessibility guidelines. In this case study we give an overview of a project in which national accessibility guidelines and related documents were developed. We also describe, based on the research , some of the surrounding cultural factors that can affect the degree to which web accessibility is adopted, and the essential components for creating a “web accessibility market”


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  • 1. Developing government web accessibilityguidelines and a web accessibility cultureChris Rourke & Stephen Denning
  • 2. Outline Introduction to Abu Dhabi eGovernment Accessibility project Creating an “Accessibility Market” Social & Cultural factors influencing accessibility2 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 3. Introduction to Abu Dhabi Capital of the United Arab Emirates in the South-East of the Arabian Peninsula Largest of 7 States 2nd most populous after Dubai Seat for UAE government3 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 4. The UAE and Las Vegas – Same but different Bold and bright cities in the desert4 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 5. Introduction to Abu Dhabi Wealthy, oil-based economy Culturally conservative Ambitious eGovernment plans Abu Dhabi Systems & Information Centre Supervises the implementation of eGovernment Part of e-Abu Dhabi: The Abu Dhabi Government Modernization Initiative5 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 6. Introduction to the Middle East online Online in the region is increasingly important The number of internet users is expected to grow by nearly 50% over the next 3 years, to 82 million users by 2013 [Source, Startup Arabia June 2010] The fastest growing language on the web is Arabic, a growth rate of 2,500% over the last decade. [Source: Search Engine Watch, February 2011] People in the Arab world spend about three hours per day on the internet, similar to the time spent watching TV. [Source: Startup Arabia, February 2010]6 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 7. Outline Introduction to Abu Dhabi eGovernment Accessibility project Creating an “Accessibility Market” Social & Cultural factors influencing accessibility7 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 8. eGovernment Accessibility project ADSIC focused on accessibility in 2010 Counter, Kiosk, Phone & Online In response to UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) Strategic vision: deliver world class services to all its customers including those with disabilities Raise awareness of accessibility amongst all Abu Dhabi Government Entities (ADGEs)8 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 9. Three Key Phases 1. Baseline of Current Landscape 2. Development of Accessibility Guidelines & Supporting Materials 3. Evaluation of Current Infrastructure9 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 10. 1. Baseline of Current Landscape Assess the current accessibility provisions Focus group sessions with stakeholders Met disability groups Image: Madq Qatar10 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 11. 1. Findings No central statistics or demographic information Low awareness of accessibility Among people with disabilities Limited access to assistive technologies Unaware of enhancements Few requests for enhancements In ADGEs - inability to verify the quality of work by vendors11 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 12. Baseline research – Findings (2) Limited vendor / design agency knowledge Work often outsourced and costs increased Where budget tight, accessibility deprioritised Existing guidelines dictate visual design rather than semantically structured, accessible design Content automatically created by CMS often not accessible Others in the region have variable access provision12 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 13. Saudi Arabia13 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 14. Kuwait14 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 15. Oman15 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 16. 2. Development of Guidelines Why not just use WCAG 2.0??16 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 17. 2. Development of Guidelines Guidelines at 2 levels :- Mandatory - must be adhered to for a minimum level of accessibility for one or more disability groups Optional - provide an enhanced level of accessibility for one or more disability groups Rationale provided for each guideline detailing:- Disability groups who benefit from the guideline Impact of not implementing the guideline17 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 18. 2. Development of Guidelines Guidelines ordered by element type:- Use of images and colour Navigation Forms and form validation Structure and content Functionality and scripting Audio and video For an audience new to accessibility this was better than by the 4 “POUR” principles of WCAG 2.018 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 19. 2. Development of Guidelines 2.3 - Ensure that all page 3.1 - Provide programmatic and elements can be navigated by visual form labels for form fields non-mouse users Associate visual labels Use HTML and CSS to build programmatically using label and style form controls element Provide keyboard specific Locate visual labels in close even handlers as well as proximity to the field to which mouse specific one they refer Provide a logical tab order Provide information of expected through page control and data format for relevant form form elements fields Indicate which fields are mandatory. If all fields are mandatory, state this at the start of the form.19 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 20. Implementation Supporting Material Two key documents Technical implementation guide Code examples of non-compliance with guideline and how to implement correctly ‘How to assess accessibility’ guide Step by step instructions to carry out a high level accessibility audit Intended for checking vendor submitted work and internal development work20 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 21. 2. Supporting Materials (cont) Sample Implementation Guide 1.1 Provide alternative, informative content when images are not available or supported Overview Images and other graphic or multimedia objects must be supplemented with alternative text …. Implementation Methods Non-decorative Images When using the img element, specify a short text alternative with the alt attribute. Note. The value of this attribute is referred to as "alt text". <img src=”images/burjkhalifa.jpg” alt=”Burj Khalifa Building” /> Decorative images When images are decorative (e.g. rounded corners, patterns or images which would either be of no benefit to assistive technology users or may actually create unnecessary auditory output) then provide that image with ‘null’ alternative text. <img src=”images/roundedcorner.gif” alt=”” />21 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 22. 3. Evaluation of Current Infrastructure 1. Assess Sites A cross section of 20 ADGE websites (English & Arabic) against the guidelines 2. Assess Vendors Create a shortlist of suitable providers in the UAE that understand accessibility22 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 23. 3. Evaluation of Current Infrastructure Assess Sites Common findings Inappropriate or missing alternative text Form fields which were incorrectly labeled in page markup Inconsistent and often non-existent keyboard navigation Lack of structural elements in a page (e.g. semantic headings) Forgetting to specify left-to-right and right-to-left styles when switching between Arabic and English on the same page.23 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 24. 3. Evaluation of Current Infrastructure (cont) Linked images with inappropriate alternative text: Images which are actually links with ‘null’ alternative text rather than descriptive alternative text. As a result, screen reader users will not hear these image links as the screen reader will ignore them. Recommendation: Set the alternative text for each of these image links to match the text in the images. Form labels missing: Form fields without associated label element in the underlying markup. May prevent screen reader users accessing key information about the fields. Recommendation: Implement correct, semantic form labels as per implementation guide for guideline 3.124 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 25. 3. Evaluation of Current Infrastructure Assess Vendors Vendors evaluated through: Initial evaluation of their site, client sites, size & scale Initial email questionnaire - approach & attitude Face to face interview in UAE & technical test 10 vendors were shortlisted and given a competency rating between 1 and 525 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 26. Technical Test – Example question Which of these sets of javaScript event handlers provides the greatest level of accessibility for disabled users? onMouseout and onMouseover onFocus and onBlur onKeypress and onMouseover onClick and onKeypress Try it out yourselves26 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 27. Key deliverables from the project Easy to use guidelines, checklist & technical guide Insight into the state of accessibility within the Abu Dhabi eGovernment Detailed review of several sites A list of suppliers which have proven accessibility skills27 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 28. So… The guidelines are in place…. ….the suppliers are identified…. ….they all know what to do and how to do it…. …so its all set then right?28 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 29. So… NO Guidelines on their own don’t make a site accessible Need to have Motivation to make sites accessible Skills to make accessible sites Skills to review sites for accessibility29 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 30. Outline Introduction to Abu Dhabi eGovernment Accessibility project Creating an “Accessibility Market” Social & Cultural factors influencing accessibility30 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 31. Web accessibility “Market” Assistive Technology – Provision, training & People With • Raise awareness • Work with NGOs language support Disabilities • Campaign • Sue? NGO’s (e.g. RNIB, Specialists Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) Zayed, ADA) Researchers Laws (E.g. Equality Act, ADA) Awareness (e.g. Consultants Standards (BS8878) fixtheweb) Suppliers / Company / agencies organisation • Hear the feedback• Feel the pressure (from clients) • Feel the Pressure (PR, legal)• See a competitive opportunity • Understand benefits• Learn the requirements & guidelines • Learn what’s required• Apply regularly • Fix the site & Future proof Company standards CSR efforts31 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 32. Outline Introduction to Abu Dhabi eGovernment Accessibility project Creating an “Accessibility Market” Social & Cultural factors influencing accessibility32 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 33. How does culture affect this? 1. Bottom up or Top Down? 2. Perceptions of disabilities 3. Expectations 4. Resources 5. Consequences 6. Awareness33 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 34. 1. Bottom up or top down? Tradition of disability activism in the US and UK See www.itsourstory.org34 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 35. 2. Perceptions “People with disabilities in this region still face obstacles in being included in society alongside people without disabilities.” World Bank - Disability in Middle East and North Africa Region Although hard to quantify, disabilities (and people with disability) are often not integrated or recognised Or it is a family affair – kept to (within) the family “Prevents those with disabilities being taken seriously as independent agents, leaving them at the mercy of negative stereotypes”.35 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 36. 3. Expectations What is the role of Disability Support groups & NGO’s? Is it: To campaign on rights, to the government? Provide skills & confidence to allow people with MIDDLE EAST WEST disabilities to look after themselves? Provide technology to help adapt? To give money & care assistance?36 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 37. 4. Resources National level Developing countries are more worried about getting wide & stable internet access & infrastructure Some countries are more open to working with external experts Project level May not be aware of the accessibility issue Budgets & projects don’t allow it Was in initial project plan but dropped37 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 38. 5. Consequences http://www.w3.org/WAI/bcase/socog-case-study To the site owner or developer In West there is more chance of scrutiny What happens to policymakers that don’t make things better? Competitiveness Awards Neighbours38 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 39. 6. Awareness Are the people with disabilities aware of potential improvements? Are there channels for them to point out accessibility failures? Are the NGOs aware of content related solutions (as opposed to plugins, software or assistive tech)? Do people receiving feedback relating to accessibility understand the nature of the complaint?39 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 40. The UN Convention The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) “To promote, protect and ensure human rights by all persons with disabilities, promote respect for their inherent dignity” Adopted in 2006 17 Middle East states have signed, of which 10 have additionally ratified the convention Has triggered awareness and a process in which governments are competing to make their websites more accessible.40 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 41. Ending on a positive note… Things are changing – it takes time for the guidelines to be implemented Some agencies are touting accessibility. Maybe included in requirements Accessibility considered in regional eGov Awards Official Arabic Translation of WCAG 2.041 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 42. Zayed Higher Organization for Humanitarian Care and Special Needs Access Centre open in 2012 Medical and therapy services, Audiology Orthotics Equipment for the blind augmentative communication devices, etc. Training for developers AT Showcase42 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 43. Mada - Qatar Assistive Technology Centre eAccessibility Policy Web audits and reviews Funding accessibility related tools Web Accreditation Program & Award Assistive Tech showcase for people with a disability in Qatar & region Promote AT awareness & training Supporting development of Arabic language AT43 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 44. Takeaways Accessibility guidelines need to be usable by their audience A wider ecosystem needs to be in place to make accessibility actually happen Culture and tradition is an important part to that ecosystem44 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 45. Thanks General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi , Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council Mark Palmer Shadi Abou-Zahrah Jamie Sands David Banes45 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved
  • 46. Thank you User Vision (MENA) User Vision UK Office 508 55 North Castle Street The Fairmont Dubai Edinburgh Sheikh Zayed Road Scotland, UK Dubai, United Arab Emirates 00 44 131 225 0850 00 971 (4) 311 6607 Chris Rourke Stephen Denning e: chris@uservision.co.uk e: stephen@uservision.co.uk Twitter : Twitter : @steve_denning @crourke, @uservision @uservisionmena46 © User Vision Limited™, 2012. All rights reserved