Proceedings of the 2008 International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility W4A
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The W4A conference is decidedly cross-disciplinary but focused on Scientific Enquiry, Research, Development, and Engineering, and brings together computer scientists, psychologists, accessibility experts and technologists from academia and industry in discussion.
The following articles are from "Proceedings of the 2008 International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility W4A":
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Raman, T. V. (2008): Cloud computing and equal access for all. In: Proceedings of the 2008 International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility W4A 2008. pp. 1-4. Available online
Web-2.0 applications use the Web as a platform for delivering end-user applications. This transformation has a profound impact on how applications are authored, deployed and consumed. Software applications in this environment are no longer monolithic -- instead, they are naturally separated into distributed components that implement application and interaction logic. The application logic along with user data resides in the network cloud; the user interface made up of presentation and interaction logic is delivered in a form best suited to the user's needs, e.g., via a universal client such as a Web browser. The advantages of this usage/delivery model for mainstream users has been widely explored in the last 18 months. This keynote focuses on the impact of this transformation on users with special needs. Today, the potential for universal access presented by applications delivered via the Web remains largely unrealized. This is partly due to the impedance mismatch that results from trying to treat interactive Web applications as static Web documents. Eliminating this impedance mismatch requires innovation at all levels of the technology stack with respect to: * How Web applications are authored and deployed, * How Web applications are consumed, * How Web interaction is augmented by adaptive technologies. This keynote will describe some of these challenges and the accompanying opportunities.
Thomas, Kavita E., Sumegi, Livia, Ferres, Leo and Sripada, Somayajulu (2008): Enabling access to geo-referenced information: Atlas.txt. In: Proceedings of the 2008 International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility W4A 2008. pp. 101-104. Available online
We present Atlas.txt, a novel data-to-text natural language generation system which enables access to geo-referenced information like online census data. We first discuss initial findings from an accessibility study on geo-referenced data and outline needs requirements for visually-impaired users of such data. We then present work towards realising our data-to-text system and indicate how it aims to address this issue.
Chen, Yui-Liang and Lin, Gina (2008): An accessibility evaluation platform: borrowing from web 2.0. In: Proceedings of the 2008 International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility W4A 2008. pp. 105-108. Available online
There are limitations when it comes to promoting increased Internet access to the wider population in Taiwan, mainly because efforts are centered on government-led initiatives that are guided by a Web Accessibility policy. These include the establishment of a call center to handle both technical and administrative issues; creation of a validation toolset, known as 'Freego', to detect violation of Web Accessibility guidelines; the provision of services to support Accessibility Conformances; evaluation reports of websites conducted via automated and human reviews; and progress reports that monitor compliance with Web Accessibility guidelines. The Research, Development&Evaluation Commission (RDEC) has been established as an agency of the Executive Yuan of Taiwan, and is responsible for the administration of a Web Accessibility policy. An Accessibility Evaluation platform, based on ideas taken from Web 2.0, is therefore proposed in this paper in order to leverage these public sector initiatives, as well as to allow for contributions from the wider, interested community. This platform borrows from concepts such as social learning theory (SLS) and social networking service (SNS), which demonstrate that increased social interaction and networking enables people to learn more and to utilize Internet resources more often and productively. Increased Internet accessibility overcomes the challenges of longdistance communication and allows for the maintenance of new and existing relationships, which has societal, as well as individual, benefits. The proposed platform framework is based upon front-end and back-end interfaces, which incorporate user and administrator functions that implement accessibility policies. This should enable a wider participation from the community in the accessibility evaluation process, and allow for a wider dissertation of community experience and knowledge.
Reid, Loretta Guarino and Snow-Weaver, Andi (2008): WCAG 2.0: a web accessibility standard for the evolving web. In: Proceedings of the 2008 International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility W4A 2008. pp. 109-115. Available online
Since the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (WCAG) became a W3C recommendation in May 1999, the Web has changed dramatically. This paper describes some of the major issues encountered because of these changes and the approaches developed to address them in WCAG 2.0.
Ferretti, Stefano, Mirri, Silvia, Muratori, Ludovico Antonio, Roccetti, Marco and Salomoni, Paola (2008): E-learning 2.0: you are We-LCoME!. In: Proceedings of the 2008 International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility W4A 2008. pp. 116-125. Available online
The Internet is turning into a participating community where consumers and producers of resources merge into "prosumers", dialectically sharing their knowledge, their interests and needs. This Web 2.0 archetype is now strongly impacting on e-learning methodologies and technologies, by enforcing the participation of students in creating and sharing materials and resources. Overcoming latent alarms introduced by the coming out of new complex tools, e-learning 2.0 represents a new challenge for accessibility. The production of accessible contents can now be turned from an impossible mission centrally managed by teachers and institutions to a joint work of people improving learning materials. In this context, we present an e-learning 2.0 tool, designed and developed to support users in editing educational resources and compounding multimedia contents through a collaborative work. Starting from a multimedia resource provided by the lecturer, an entire community can contribute in adding alternative contents and views, creating a multidimensional information structure. The resulting enriched resource can be tailored to a specific user by resorting to automatic adaptation mechanisms. This system can be used to transform the content production workflow, involving all the different actors (lecturers, learning technologists, student support services, staff developers and students) playing a role in improving accessibility and, more generally, effectiveness of learning materials.
Shelly, Cynthia and Pezely, Becky (2008): Accessible blog posts with windows live writer. In: Proceedings of the 2008 International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility W4A 2008. pp. 126-127. Available online
Windows Live Writer is a desktop application for publishing to blogs. This paper demonstrates the ways in which Writer enables blog authors to publish accessible HTML to blogs without extra effort, knowledge of HTML or awareness of accessibility.
Lunn, Darren, Bechhofer, Sean and Harper, Simon (2008): The SADIe transcoding platform. In: Proceedings of the 2008 International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility W4A 2008. pp. 128-129. Available online
The World Wide Web (Web) is a visually complex, dynamic, multimedia system that can be inaccessible to people with visual impairments. SADIe addresses this problem by using Semantic Web technologies to explicate implicit visual structures through a combination of an upper and lower ontology. By identifying elements within the Web page, in addition to the role that those elements play, accurate transcoding can be applied to a diverse range of Websites.
Borodin, Yevgen, Bigham, Jeffrey P., Stent, Amanda and Ramakrishnan, I. V. (2008): Towards one world web with HearSay3. In: Proceedings of the 2008 International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility W4A 2008. pp. 130-131. Available online
In this paper, we present the key functionalities of HearSay 3, a non-visual web browser designed with the goal of improving web accessibility across the world. The featured functionalities include transparent support for multiple languages, collaborative labeling that harnesses the power of the social web, and a usable interface for handling dynamic web content.
Bigham, Jeffrey P., Prince, Craig M., Hahn, Sangyun and Ladner, Richard E. (2008): WebAnywhere: a screen reading interface for the web on any computer. In: Proceedings of the 2008 International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility W4A 2008. pp. 132-133. Available online
Fulfilling the promise of a web-enabled global community means enabling blind web users to access their information and collaborative web services wherever they happen to be on whatever computer to which they happen to have access. Whether they're checking their email at a local internet café, using an airport kiosk to connect with a new business contact on a social networking site, or collaboratively editing a document in a hotel business center, blind web users need to stay connected to be successful. While web-enabled computers are everywhere, screen readers are installed on very few. Downloading and installing new software can take a long time and is difficult without a screen reading interface, and many will not allow users to download and install new software at all. Accessible mobile devices are prohibitively expensive. WebAnywhere is a free screen-reading web application capable of making the web accessible to blind users on any web-enabled computer or device, regardless of platform or browser used, without installing new software.
Baguma, Rehema and Lubega, Jude T. (2008): A web design framework for improved accessibility for people with disabilities (WDFAD). In: Proceedings of the 2008 International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility W4A 2008. pp. 134-140. Available online
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) such as the World Wide Web (WWW) has increasingly become embedded in everyday life and is progressively becoming indispensable for public, business, personal efficiency or even improvement of livelihoods . Web users including People with Disabilities (PWDs) can conveniently undertake a number of tasks that would otherwise be difficult or impossible. But many Web applications such as e-learning, e-commerce and e-government are not accessible to PWDs including the blind. Through Web accessibility guidelines, Web developers can develop Web applications that are accessible to PWDs. However, majority of the available accessibility guidelines are difficult to integrate into existing developer workflows and rarely offer specific suggestions that are developer oriented. In this paper, we propose a Web Design Framework for Improved Accessibility for People with Disabilities (WDFAD). The WDFAD provides precise guidelines on how to develop Web applications that are accessible to PWDs particularly the blind. These are packaged according to the three components of Web applications namely; content, navigation and user interface. Using constructs of the Non Functional Requirements (NFR) Framework, Web accessibility design objectives are represented as primary goals and sub goals. The primary goals represent the high level accessibility design objectives, while the sub goals represent the requirements that need to be met in the Web development process in order to meet each primary goal. WDFAD also illustrates the overlaps between the process of meeting each primary goal. This unveils the optimal ways of achieving Web accessibility during Web design. The precise nature of WDFAD and its packaging according to the main components of Web applications makes Web accessibility requirements potentially easier to understand and apply by Web developers. Web Developers prefer precise and familiar tools due to their busy work life and daily interface and expression in formal instructions. In addition, the global versus local classification of Web accessibility requirements in WDFAD modularizes the web accessibility guidelines hence making them easier to understand, apply and update.
Kelly, Brian, Nevile, Liddy, Draffan, EA and Fanou, Sotiris (2008): One world, one web ... but great diversity. In: Proceedings of the 2008 International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility W4A 2008. pp. 141-147. Available online
The mantra "One World, One Web" has a strong appeal to Web developers. They think of it as a design philosophy based on use of internationally agreed open standards for providing universal access to networked resources and services available on the World Wide Web. But does the available evidence show that practices match this philosophy? How would such an approach work in a Web 2.0 environment in which users may be authors of content? This paper reviews the limitations of the dependence on a single WAI model and WCAG 1.0 guidelines. It describes a holistic approach to Web accessibility that has been discussed previously. There are additional complexities of accessibility in a Web 2.0 environment, in which not only can readers be creators of Web resources in a variety of formats, but also content can be surfaced in a variety of ways, addressed in this paper. The authors describe how the holistic model, initially developed to support the development of accessible e-learning in a Web 2.0 context, is well-suited for a Web 2.0 environment. The paper provides a case study to illustrate how this holistic approach can be applied in the development of Web resources for users with learning difficulties. The paper concludes by arguing that future work to enhance the accessibility of Web services should focus on the development and commissioning processes rather than continue the current narrow emphasis on the compliance with universal accessibility guidelines of the digital resources themselves, independently of the context of their use. Finally, the paper refers to two new developments that support the wider focus, providing for individual user-centred accessibility with descriptions of resources and components enabling adaptation of resources to individual needs and preferences.
Buzzi, Marina and Leporini, Barbara (2008): Is Wikipedia usable for the blind?. In: Proceedings of the 2008 International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility W4A 2008. pp. 15-22. Available online
Today wikis are becoming increasingly widespread, and offer great benefits in a variety of collaborative environments. Therefore, to be universally valuable, wiki systems should be easy to use for anyone, regardless of ability. This paper describes obstacles that a blind user may encounter when interacting via screen reader with Wikipedia, and offers some suggestions for improving usability.
Yonaitis, Robert B., Simberkoff, Dana Louise, Mueffelmann, Kurt A. and Shelly, Cynthia (2008): The accessibility kit for SharePoint: a community-based approach to web accessibility. In: Proceedings of the 2008 International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility W4A 2008. pp. 23-26. Available online
Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS) is an integrated suite of server capabilities that can help improve organizational effectiveness by providing comprehensive content management and enterprise search, accelerating shared business processes, and facilitating information-sharing across boundaries for better business insight. The Accessibility Kit for SharePoint (AKS) is an add-on pack for Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 that provides accessibility and usability enhancements for SharePoint. This development effort was broken into two parts (a) standing up a more accessible web-site in an effort to accelerate the process of building accessible Web sites in SharePoint in accordance with the WCAG 1.0 AA guidelines and (b) enhancing the accessibility of the collaborative environment within SharePoint, including blogs and Wikis, to meet the guidelines in a similar fashion. The AKS is developed by HiSoftware in collaboration with and on behalf of Microsoft. The product was designed to be partner-led to allow the partners specific examples through the use of best practices and documentation. As part of the project, Microsoft and HiSoftware are co-hosting and nurturing an AKS Community. The AKS Community site allows Microsoft Partners, customers and stakeholders to engage in dialogue with each other and Microsoft about Accessibility best practices, lessons learned challenges and successes. This community-based approach to accessibility has generated a great deal of enthusiasm, including approximately 1000 downloads in the first month and 150 organizations joining the community. This community approach to accessibility for a particular authoring environment has applicability to the broader field of web accessibility.
Dodd, Robert, Green, Dr. Steve and Pearson, Dr. Elaine (2008): The CISNA model of accessible adaptive hypermedia. In: Proceedings of the 2008 International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility W4A 2008. pp. 27-36. Available online
With the growth of script-intensive web pages, particularly those using AJAX technology, the adaptation of Web content to match the needs and capabilities of individual users has become increasingly problematic. New versions of well-known websites, including for example Google Suggest, which is an AJAX driven variant of their standard search page, are now largely opaque to screen reading technology such as Jaws. Taken together with the trend to surf the Web on small hand-held devices, which causes its own accessibility problems, a new approach to expressing heavily scripted content is needed. This research returns to first principals, and considers the underlying Dexter Model of Hypertext, and how that may be placed within a broader model of document content that is amenable to adaptation of content to user needs either through configuration, or through dynamic self-adaptation. The model proposed considers a document in terms of five individual abstractions: content, inventory, semantics, navigation, and adaptation. A simple (fully working) example, taken from a small fragment of Google Maps, is presented to demonstrate how such a model may operate in practice, adapting between two different user profiles on demand.
Designing graphs and charts visually by means of graphing applications such as OpenOffice or MS Excel is extremely efficient and cost-effective. However, one of the drawbacks of such approach is that graphs are sometimes involuntarily made less accessible by, for instance, using a text box as title. In this paper we evaluate a corpus of 120 ecologically-valid statistical graphs for accessibility problems, discuss possible algorithms to solve these problems and finally propose the OM (Object Model) Principle, which states that any digital object is made more accessible by simply using the application's model for that object: for instance, the TITLE field for the title text.
Velasco, Carlos A., Denev, Dimitar, Stegemann, Dirk and Mohamad, Yehya (2008): A web compliance engineering framework to support the development of accessible rich internet applications. In: Proceedings of the 2008 International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility W4A 2008. pp. 45-49. Available online
Web Compliance Engineering is a new field within Web Engineering that deals with the increasing complexity of Internet applications, the wide variety of mobile devices, the richer user interfaces coming out of Web 2.0 and the quality assurance processes for non-uniform policy environments worldwide. Considering these issues from the perspective of Web accessibility, the borders of its traditional components  are blurred as users become content providers. We present in this paper a Web compliance framework developed to support both users and application developers to create accessible content for Rich Internet Applications. This framework is an evolution of traditional evaluation tools aimed at supporting compliance as a quality process, which ensures its successful implementation in production environments.
Lopes, Rui and Carrico, Luis (2008): The impact of accessibility assessment in macro scale universal usability studies of the web. In: Proceedings of the 2008 International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility W4A 2008. pp. 5-14. Available online
This paper presents a modelling framework, Web Interaction Environments, to express the synergies and differences of audiences, in order to study universal usability of the Web. Based on this framework, we have expressed the implicit model of WCAG and developed an experimental study to assess the Web accessibility quality of Wikipedia at a macro scale. This has resulted on finding out that template mechanisms such as those provided by Wikipedia lower the burden of producing accessible contents, but provide no guarantee that hyperlinking to external websites maintain accessibility quality. We discuss the black-boxed nature of guidelines such as WCAG and how formalising audiences helps leveraging universal usability studies of the Web at macro scales.
Penev, Alex and Wong, Raymond K. (2008): Grouping hyperlinks for improved voice/mobile accessibility. In: Proceedings of the 2008 International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility W4A 2008. pp. 50-53. Available online
The majority of websites focus on the presentation of content as opposed to meeting standards or accessibility requirements. Accessibility is important for the future of the web: sites that are easier to use on a wider range of devices will likely attract more traffic. A factor guiding the evaluation of accessibility is how easy it is to find something on a page. We propose an on-demand automatic clustering of a page's hyperlinks to help a blind user locate a desired link quickly. Clustering related links into cohesive groups allows users to focus attention on a subset of content. Another application is to help create portal pages for hand-held mobile devices.
Chen, Charles L. and Raman, T. V. (2008): AxsJAX: a talking translation bot using google IM: bringing web-2.0 applications to life. In: Proceedings of the 2008 International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility W4A 2008. pp. 54-56. Available online
Garofalakis, John and Stefanis, Vassilios (2008): MokE: a tool for Mobile-ok evaluation of web content. In: Proceedings of the 2008 International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility W4A 2008. pp. 57-64. Available online
The ever-growing corpus of web content is now accessible from mobile devices. But is web content ready for mobile access? Which characteristics provide an acceptable user experience when using a mobile device? Based on W3C's MobileOK best practices and tests we present MokE (Mobile OK Evaluator), a tool that helps creators of web content, webmasters and site administrators to evaluate how a mobile user will experience browsing of their content. By making use of W3C's basic tests this tool is comprised of a set of modules that crawl a web site, analyze its content (including a hidden web capability) and provide an evaluation of its appropriateness for mobile access.
Vigo, Markel, Aizpurua, Amaia, Arrue, Myriam and Abascal, Julio (2008): Evaluating web accessibility for specific mobile devices. In: Proceedings of the 2008 International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility W4A 2008. pp. 65-72. Available online
This paper presents a tool for evaluating web accessibility for mobile devices regardless their software, hardware or user agent characteristics. Taking the mobileOK Basic tests by the W3C as a basis, these tests are extended so that device characteristics can be considered in the evaluation process. A sound tool that takes into account these extended tests has been developed. Device features of a given device are retrieved from heterogeneous device description repositories and CC/PP based profiles are automatically generated. Based on these profiles, evaluation queries are dynamically created obtaining device-tailored evaluation reports. Finally, in order to demonstrate the feasibility of the tool, a case study has been conducted concluding that the tool reduces the number of false positives and false negatives.
Bigham, Jeffrey P., Prince, Craig M. and Ladner, Richard E. (2008): WebAnywhere: a screen reader on-the-go. In: Proceedings of the 2008 International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility W4A 2008. pp. 73-82. Available online
People often use computers other than their own to access web content, but blind users are restricted to using only computers equipped with expensive, special-purpose screen reading programs that they use to access the web. Web-Anywhere is a web-based, self-voicing web browser that enables blind web users to access the web from almost any computer that can produce sound without installing new software. The system could serve as a convenient, low-cost solution for blind users on-the-go, for blind users unable to afford a full screen reader and for web developers targeting accessible design. This paper overviews existing solutions for mobile web access for blind users and presents the design of the WebAnywhere system. WebAnywhere generates speech remotely and uses prefetching strategies designed to reduce perceived latency. A user evaluation of the system is presented showing that blind users can use Web-Anywhere to complete tasks representative of what users might want to complete on computers that are not their own. A survey of public computer terminals shows that WebAnywhere can run on most.
Abou-Zahra, Shadi, Brewer, Judy and Arch, Andrew (2008): Towards bridging the accessibility needs of people with disabilities and the ageing community. In: Proceedings of the 2008 International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility W4A 2008. pp. 83-86. Available online
This communication paper introduces the "Web Accessibility Initiative: Ageing Education and Harmonisation" (WAI-AGE) project, a World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) project. It is funded by the European Commission under its 6th Framework Programme (FP6) of the Information Society Technologies (IST), and includes activities to: better understand the needs of the ageing community in the context of existing Web accessibility guidelines; work with the ageing community to obtain more direct input and contribution into the development of solutions and strategies for Web accessibility; revise existing and develop new educational materials to better reflect the accessibility needs of the ageing community on the Web; and to pursue standards coordination and harmonisation to promote the adoption and implementation of a common set of Web accessibility guidelines. This paper delivers some insights on the current progress of the project, and describes some of the expected outcomes. This paper also highlights some of the opportunities for researchers, experts, developers, industry, and users to contribute to the outcomes of the project.
Freire, André P., Russo, Cibele M. and Fortes, Renata P. M. (2008): A survey on the accessibility awareness of people involved in web development projects in Brazil. In: Proceedings of the 2008 International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility W4A 2008. pp. 87-96. Available online
Accessibility has become a very important issue to promote inclusion in the Information Society, and people involved in Web development projects have a very important role to contribute with the development of a more inclusive Web. In this paper, we propose an investigation on the accessibility awareness of people involved in Web development in Brazil. We have conducted the research by means of an exploratory survey with a Web based questionnaire and a sample with subjects from academy, industry and government. The study had 613 valid answers and involved representatives from all of the 27 states of Brazil. The results show that accessibility is still far from being actually considered in Web development projects in Brazil, as only 19.9% of the participants have stated that accessibility is considered in their projects. The lack of education on accessibility, as well as the poor spread of the Brazilian accessibility law are important issues to be dealt with to boost a stronger accessibility awareness among people involved in Web development.
Thailand's IT2002 framework calls for the creation of knowledge economy under the equality of all aspects in society as demanded by the constitution. In so doing, it is imperative that the digital divide must be bridged. This necessitates the formulation of the "Digital Divide Strategic Framework" which is in-line with the National Economic Development Plan 2007-2011 and supports the implementation of the Quality of Life for Disabilities Act 2007. The Digital Divide Strategic Framework will address mainly the issue of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) accessibility for the poor, the disabled and the senior citizens. This strategic plan is designed with implementation in mind in which a total of 16 projects will be implemented over a period of three years from 2008-2010.
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