24 March 2006

CSUN 2006/Illinois and Web Accessibility

As a Michigan State guy maybe I shouldn't be promoting Big Ten rival University of Illinois, but these folks are working on important inventions in improving web accessibility.

This is a huge issue. Despite all the laws, most U.S. educational web sites (educational web sites!) remain really difficult for disabled students (and parents) to use.

I've done accessible web training, and it is difficult and time consuming, and faces unfortunate resistance from self-taught web designers, but UIUC has worked on some solutions.

First, an Accessible Web Publishing Wizard for Microsoft Office (not free, but very cheap) that automates accessible document conversion. There is also the Web Accessibility Visualizer which gives you "see it now" feedback on accessibility errors in html instead of just the line-by-line code of more familiar tools like "Bobby." Finally their Accessibility Extension for Mozilla/Firefox offers wonderful capabilities for web developers interested in reaching everyone, without disability discrimination.

from Los Angeles - Ira Socol

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