"In the summer of 2010, Peter Mosinskis from California State University Channel Islands assembled a team of approximately fifteen volunteers from seven different CSU campuses and one from the UC system to evaluate the accessibility of Google Apps. The team also recruited student volunteers and screen reader users to assist with the testing. Automated, manual, and screen reader testing began the first week of January 2011 and was completed February 4th. The report has been completed and posted here for your review. The CSU Accessible Technology Initiative (ATI) Staff, ATI Leadership Council, and Google have reviewed the Google Apps Accessibility Evaluation report. We discovered a number of accessibility issues during our testing. These issues are outlined in the report as well as "workarounds" that can be used to improve the user experience for persons with disabilities. When campuses choose to use Google Apps, they are required to provide an equally effective service for people with disabilities and it is critical for campuses to ensure that the "workarounds" meet the educational needs of the student and/or faculty. The March 15, 2011 USA TODAY online news article Complaint: Google programs hard for blind students illustrates possible legal problems that may result from adopting the Google Apps for Education suite."
Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox, September 13, 2010, Children's Websites: Usability Issues in Designing for Kids: "New research with users aged 3–12 shows that older kids have gained substantial Web proficiency since our last studies, while younger kids still face many problems. Designing for children requires distinct usability approaches, including targeting content narrowly for different ages of kids. Millions of children use the Internet, and millions more are coming online each year. Many websites specifically target children with educational or entertainment content, and mainstream websites often have specific "kids' corner" sections — either as a public service or to build brand loyalty from an early age. Despite this growth in users and services, little is known about how children actually use websites or how to design sites that will be easy for them to use. Website design for kids is typically based purely on folklore about how kids supposedly behave — or, at best, on insights gleaned when designers observe their own children, who hardly represent average kids, typical Internet skills, or common knowledge about the Web. To separate design myths from usability facts, we turn to empirical user research: observations of a broad range of children as they use a wide variety of websites. This research covers users aged 3–12 years."
Search User Interfaces by Marti A. Hearst [the author, with permission of Cambridge University Press, has placed the full text online free of charge. See the terms of service]: "This book focuses on the human users of search engines and the tool they use to interact with them: the search user interface. The truly worldwide reach of the Web has brought with it a new realization among computer scientists and laypeople of the enormous importance of usability and user interface design. In the last ten years, much has become understood about what works in search interfaces from a usability perspective, and what does not. Researchers and practitioners have developed a wide range of innovative interface ideas, but only the most broadly acceptable make their way into major web search engines. This book summarizes these developments, presenting the state of the art of search interface design, both in academic research and in deployment in commercial systems. Many books describe the algorithms behind search engines and information retrieval systems, but the unique focus of this book is specifically on the user interface."
Web Accessibility Guidelines For UN Websites (Word doc): "In order to make information on the United Nations and its activities available to the widest range of audiences, and in keeping with resolutions of the General Assembly, the Department of Public Information (DPI) is aggressively pursuing accessibility of the United Nations website by persons with disabilities. The objective of DPI is to comply with the Web Content Accessibility guidelines of the World Wide Web Consortium standards, which at the present time are the only standards with worldwide recognition."
"The new AIDS.gov home page provides easier access to site information and offers new features." Prominently displayed at the top right side of the page are links to: a well designed and organized Blog, Podcasts to which users may listen and for which transcripts are provided, RSS Feeds to the podcasts, resource announcements and alerts. Also included are AIDS/HIV related feeds from other e-gov sites. All around, this is a tremendous step forward in e-gov design, with improved site navigation, useful and accessible content and thoughtful implementation of current applications.
News release: "Citizen satisfaction with federal government websites declines for a third consecutive quarter, according to the first quarter report [Excel] of the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) E-Government Satisfaction Index. The Index aggregate score for the first quarter of 2008 fell to 72.4 on ACSI’s 100-point scale, its lowest score in thee years and a full point lower than one year ago."
U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Inspector General, Office of Audit Services, Audit Report, Management of the Department's Publicly Accessible Websites, March 2008.
"As much of the daily practice of law moves to web-based technologies, it is increasingly important that all members of the legal community -- lawyers and non-lawyers alike -- understand the need for websites that are accessible to all audiences. Efforts to ensure that websites are accessible to disabled persons, simply referred to as "web accessibility," allow people with disabilities to perceive, understand, navigate, interact with, and contribute to the web. In doing so, they promote full and open access to the legal profession -- a longstanding ABA goal. To help you better understand web accessibility and how it can be implemented by your firm or organization, we've collected the[se] useful resources..."
FTC FAQ: "The Federal Trade Commission today unveiled a redesigned Web site to enhance consumers' ability to find the information they want quickly and easily. As the federal agency that works directly with and for consumers, the FTC strives to be accessible and transparent, with information that is clear, simple, and easy to access. The Web site acts as a clearinghouse for all of the FTC's actions, from reports and surveys, through policy recommendations and law enforcement actions, to consumer and business guidance. The new design organizes information according to the various functions of how the FTC serves the public, with tabs for consumer protection and competition, and the branches of the FTC that support the agency’s overall mission, such as economics, policy, and international. The site consolidates all of the FTC’s information in Spanish, making it easier to navigate. The information, whether in English or Spanish, is written in plain-language to make it accessible to everyone."
Harmony Helps: A Progress Report on State Government Internet Presence - March 2007 - "This brief explores how state web portals have matured and examines the impact of the 2003 expansion of the dot-gov domain to state and local governments; trends in state portal domain naming conventions; trends in Internet portal branding and marketing; the alignment of agency websites and state email addressing with the state portal; areas of cross-boundary collaboration for online services; and areas for future progress in cross-boundary collaboration for online services."
GovExec.com: Google moves ahead with plan to open up federal Web sites: "Three federal organizations recently agreed to structure their sites to make them accessible for nearly all Internet searches, [Google] officials said."
Press release, October 30, 2006: "HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt today announced the publication of the 2006 edition of the popular Research-Based Web Design & Usability Guidelines. Based on the latest research, the Guidelines now include over 40 new or updated guidelines and have become a primary resource for government and other Web communicators. The updated guide is being published by HHS in partnership with the General Services Administration (GSA)."
Fom Google Labs, Accessible Web Search for the Visually Challenged: "In addition to finding the most relevant results as measured by Google's search algorithms, it further sorts results based on the simplicity of their page layouts."
Press release, May 3, 2005: "Rep. Waxman, along with Reps. Dingell, Rangel, Stark, and Sherrod Brown, releases a GAO report that finds that the information provided by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services about the complicated new drug benefit is rife with problems. According to GAO, the federal handbooks, website, and 1-800 Medicare hotline failed to provide information that was "consistently clear, complete, accurate, and usable."
"This Web site offers a library of resources to assist in managing a Web site using XML. It was designed and developed as a product of the Web Site Management Using XML Testbed, conducted by the Center for Technology in Government in 2005 - 2006. The library of resources is intended to grow over time and benefit from the contributions of its visitors and users. Future releases will contain more code samples and examples for different Web environments. This is the initial release of the Web site."
Developed by the British Standards Institution, and reported yesterday by the Disability Rights Commission: "Key guidance on how to develop a website which is user-friendly for disabled people has been launched today."
From Marcus P. Zillman, news of his latest Accessibility Resources White Paper Link Compilation.
The January 15, 2006 issue of LLRX.com includes the following articles:
Attention web designers: You have 50 milliseconds to make a good first impression! Authors: Lindgaard, Gitte, Fernandes, Gary, Dudek, Cathy, Browñ, J. - Behaviour and Information Technology, Volume 25, Number 2, Number 2/March-April 2006, pp. 115-126(12)
From Digital Web Magazine, 10 Reasons Clients Don't Care About Accessibility:
What Is Web Accessibility? "...this article will tell you who you need to consider when making your website and what their unique requirements are.."
Research-Based Web Design and Usability Guidelines covers 17 areas of website design, navigation, organization and content, and offers 187 site optimization guidelines developed primarily for federal government website managers and designers. The guide was created by the National Cancer Institute's Usability.gov section.
Achieving E-Government for All: Highlights from a National Survey, published October 22, by Darrell M. West, Director, Taubman Center for Public Policy, Brown University.
White House E-Mail System Becomes Less User-Friendly: "Those who want to send a message to the president must now navigate as many as nine Web pages and fill out a form that asks if they support White House policy."
From the U.S. Census Bureau, Facts & Features:
Remote Online Usability Testing: Why, How, and When to Use It. From the article:
Search engine personalization: An exploratory study. From the abstract:
Tips and techniques for making your site accessible, by German website designer Alex Horstmann, offers 14 quick usability tips, along with associated html code as applicable.
From InfoWorld: IBM's Global Services division has created a team of 40 consultants and 100 IT professionals dedicated to developing and implementing services to make software and hardware accessible to people with disabilities. The services address areas such as tweaking Web sites so their content can be read aloud by voice software and so that their design can be modified and adapted to better accommodate users with sight problems."
See the beSpacific resource area on web accessibility for related links and news.
"The Department of Commerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is the first federal agency to fully comply with the provisions of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, requiring that all federal agencies' electronic information is accessible to people with disabilities and is comparable to the information and access provided to those without disabilities."
Overview of State Accessibility Laws, Policies, Standards and Other Resources Available On-line, updated April 2003, "provides an overview of the states that have published on-line their laws, policies, standards or guidelines, and other resources related to accessibility of websites, application development, IT procurement, and public hardware (i.e., the core areas)." The sponsor is the Information Technology and Technical Assistance Training Center at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
See these two articles, one free and the other from the New York Times ($$), that discuss how a user community "unintentionally left out of the so-called digital revolution has been the severely disabled."
Joe Clark, author of Building Accessible Websites, published a white paper on Accessibility implications of digital rights management in which concludes, "Digital rights management, as currently designed, will harm people with disabilities and others who rely on accessibility features."
See also Fiddling with the Internet Dials: Understanding Usability.
On April 15, the Social Security Administration launched a redesigned website, Social Security Online, along with a new url. See the press release here, as well as the helpful fact sheet that details the new features and services available from the site, which now meets accessibility requirements. Please note that the agency continues to provide the Social Security eNews, which offers e-mail updates to subscribers in ten categories that include law & regulations, disability, and data studies & research.
Bad news for the UK's approximately 800 e-government sites comes from a report leaked to the press. Apparently, almost 80% of the sites are not published in a format accessible to users with disabilites and require redesign to achieve mandatory compliance.
Senator Edward Kennedy is breaking new ground with a completely redesigned web site that meets the requirements of The Rehabilitation Act Amendments (Section 508). For more information on how federal agency sites must provide web site access and associated online services for individuals with disabilities, refer to this site, Section 508: The Road to Accessibility, from FirstGov.
This recent, well annotated article clearly explains the use of HTML coding techniques that facilitate web site accessibility according to Sec. 508 requirements.
Political Web, launched on July 30, is a useful site for research studies on the growing use of the Internet by Congressional and gubernatorial candidates. Funded by the The Pew Charitable Trusts, researchers from the Washington State University issue regular short press releases on their findings, as well as longer, topical reports, such as this one from October 30, "People with Disabilities Overlooked on Candidate Sites."
A recent Watchfire survey indicates that the use and administration of privacy policies on corporate sites is a requirement, not an option. This press release by Watchfire's President and COO is a focuses on legislative compliance and industry best practices.
This new book, Web of Deception Misinformation on the Internet, is edited by Anne P. Mintz, who is Director of Knowledge Management at Forbes Inc., and includes a foreword by Steve Forbes. You may review in PDF the Table of Contents and a sample chapter, Web Hoaxes, Counterfeit Sites, and Other Spurious Information on the Internet.
Attention web site designers and publishers: according to Jeffrey Zeldman, in a book excerpt from Forward Compatibility: Designing & Building With Standards (2003 publication), we are undermining the success of our sites through flawed markup that slams the door on the metaphorical face of lots of potential users. Zeldman argues for the adoption of web standards developed by the collective World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) as an essential means of ensuring the future accessibility and functionality of web site content.