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Accessibility and Technical Communication


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Are you aware that the federal government has requirements for how you communicate? If you use video, it needs to be both captioned and audibly described. Is your documentation on the web? It needs to be accessible. But what does it mean to be accessible? What are the laws governing accessibility, and how do they relate to your profession? In this presentation, Paul Paire from Temple University will cover:
•An overview of accessibility and the related laws
•Specific accessibility laws as they relate to the technical communication field
•Items to address when making documents (Microsoft Word and Adobe PDF) and videos accessible

Published in: Education, Design, Technology
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Accessibility and Technical Communication

  2. 2. What law affects you in your job? Murphy’s law Rehabilitation act of 1973, as amended Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended
  3. 3. Legal background – Americans with Disabilities Act Civil Rights law The goal of this law is to make sure that people with disabilities can have an equal opportunity to participate in programs, services, and activities. Title II states that communications with persons with disabilities must be "as effective as communications with others“ Title III deals with public accommodations for people with disabilities.
  4. 4. Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States... shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Section 504 Section 508 ◦ Operating systems & software ◦ Telecommunications products ◦ Self contained, closed products  Web content  Videos or multimedia products  Desktop or portable computers
  5. 5. Section 1194.41 Information, Documentation and Support (a) Product support documentation provided to end-users shall be made available in alternate formats upon request, at no additional charge (b) End-users shall have access to a description of the accessibility and compatibility features of products in alternate formats or alternate methods upon request, at no additional charge. (c) Support services for products shall accommodate the communication needs of end-users with disabilities.
  6. 6. Examples of ‘alternate formats’ Braille ASCII text Large print Recorded audio/video ◦ Captions ◦ Audio descriptions Electronic text that is accessible to a screen reader (this includes web pages) ◦ Tags to denote headings, sections ◦ Descriptions of non-text elements such as pictures ◦ If using web pages, follow section 508 requirements for web pages (or WCAG 2.0)
  7. 7. Description of the accessibility and compatibility features Are there accessibility features of the product ◦ Can be operated with limited strength and dexterity Keyboard only access ◦ Look at the other section 508 guidelines for accessibility features How does the product work with: ◦ Screen readers ◦ JAWS ◦ Braille displays ◦ Assistive Listening Devices ◦ Screen magnifiers ◦ ZoomText ◦ MAGic ◦ Voice recognition technology (aka Speech to Text) ◦ Dragon Naturally Speaking
  8. 8. Are you required to adhere to this? Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended ◦ Receive federal funds? ◦ Do your clients receive federal funds? Americans with disabilities Act of 1990, as amended ◦ Civil rights law – you have to adhere to it
  9. 9. How many people are affected? 7 % of the male population is colorblind Table 1. Prevalence of disability by age: 1997 Total number With disability Percent with disability All ages 267,665,000 52,596,000 19.7% Under 15 years 59,606,000 4,661,000 7.8% 15 to 24 years 36,897,000 3,961,000 10.7% 25 to 44 years 83,887,000 11,200,000 13.4% 45 to 54 years 33,620,000 7,585,000 22.6% 55 to 64 years 21,591,000 7,708,000 35.7% 65 years and over 32,064,000 17,480,000 54.5% The above numbers do not include people with a temporary disability
  10. 10. What types of disabilities? Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorders Blindness or Low Vision Brain Injuries Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing Learning Disabilities Medical Disabilities Physical Disabilities Psychiatric Disabilities Speech and Language Disabilities
  11. 11. Federal funds - MARTA Martin vs. MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) ◦ First case where web accessibility was addressed ◦ Case summary ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ Blind person wanted to use MARTA (public transit) Web wasn’t accessible Print materials weren’t accessible Took too long to get accessible materials (by the time they got them they were out of date) ◦ What’s the real issue? ◦ Equal and equitable access (timeliness)
  12. 12. e-Commerce - Target $6 million class action settlement + $4 million in legal fees Target’s website was inaccessible (which prevented people who are blind and use assistive technology from using its online services.)
  13. 13. How do you communicate? PDF Web Word EPUB Video
  14. 14. PDFs A virtual panacea for information distribution ◦ Maintain format and style regardless of platform A virtual nightmare for people who are blind/low vision ◦ Reading order ◦ Tags Tools used to create them often don’t pass on accessibility features New (2012) standard: PDF/UA
  15. 15. Adobe Adobe has adopted accessibility features in many of its programs: ◦ Acrobat X and XI ◦ Creative Cloud suite (InDesign, etc.) ◦ Flash Has free training and resources for creating accessible content ◦ ◦
  16. 16. Web Section 508 requirements: ◦ Alt-text ◦ Captions ◦ Color contrast & color is not the only way to convey information ◦ Style sheets not required ◦ Tables styled appropriately ◦ Forms are accessible ◦ Skip navigation links ◦ If a timed response is required, people are alerted & can ask for more time
  17. 17. Web 2.0 Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Voluntary Three levels: ◦A ◦ AA (most institutions are adopting this) ◦ AAA Section 508 is pending a refresh which will closely match WCAG 2.0 AA
  18. 18. Word accessibility Staring in 2010 (PC Only), use the Accessibility checker ◦ Alt text ◦ Tables have column headers ◦ Styles to provide structure ◦ Hypertext is meaningful ◦ Tables (i.e. no blank rows) ◦ No repeated blank characters ◦ No floating objects
  19. 19. Video accessibility Section 508 requirement Training or informational multimedia productions Is the software being used to play the videos accessible?
  20. 20. Videos - captions Section 508 requirement Contrast of text with background image Accurate transcription ◦ Non-verbal content (i.e. music) ◦ Silence Speakers are identified No federal guidelines for how accurate the captions need to be Beneficial for people without disabilities ◦ Noisy environment (can turn on captions) ◦ Non-English speakers
  21. 21. Videos – audio descriptions Section 508 requirement Audible descriptions of what is happening visually
  22. 22. Voluntary Product Accessibility Template Industry standard document Has sections for each of the 508 standards (including ‘documentation and support’) ◦ Criteria ◦ Level of Support & Supporting Features ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ Supports Supports with Exceptions Supports with equivalent facilitation (there’s a work around) Supports when combined with Compatible AT Does not support Not applicable ◦ Remarks and comments
  23. 23. Cautions about braille Less than 10% of the blind population knows braille (and it’s typically not taught in school) If you get items made in braille, have it checked to make sure it’s accurate
  24. 24. Questions?
  25. 25. Contact