Initial Research: Information Regarding Accessibility (Section 508)
Last Updated 07.25.00
In February 2000, initial research was conducted by the UI group to understand the ramifications of the accessibility standards being developed by external groups affect on the BLAF (Browser Look and Feel) guidelines. Research on the web was conducted, a review and questions list based on the spring 2000 version of the W3C standards was created, and a accessibility consultant was hired to review all the issues with the team. Below is a list of links that discuss the initial findings.
What is Accessibility and Who is Affected?
What is Accessibility? -
It is a federal requirement that Oracle web-based applications and guidelines are compliant with Section 508;
federal procurement officiers can not purchase electronic and informationt technologies that are not accessible to people with disabilities. This act ensures that people with disabilities will have equity in the use of electronic
and information technology.
"The 1998 Amendments to Section 508 directed the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board
(Access Board) to develop and publish standards by February 7, 2000 setting forth a definition of electronic and
information technology and the technical and functional performance criteria necessary for achieving accessibility
to such technology and information by individuals with disabilities. The definition of electronic and information
technology is required to be consistent with the definition of information technology contained in the
Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996. The new legislation also instructed the Access Board and GSA to provide technical
assistance to Federal agencies and consumers once the standards are implemented on August 7, 2000."
(excerpt from http://www.access-board.gov/pubs/eitaacrpt.htm)
Who is Affected by issues of Web accessibility? -
Electronic and Information technology must be accessible and usable by as wide a range of people with disabilities as possible including
(excerpt from http://www.access-board.gov/pubs/eitaacrpt.htm)
- visual disabilities (e.g., blindness, low vision and lack of color perception), emphasis at this time has been placed on this disability as being most crucial for Oracle to address
- hearing disabilities (e.g., hard of hearing, deafness),
- people with physical disabilities (e.g., limited strength, reach or manipulation, tremor, lack of sensation),
- people with speech disabilities,
- people with language, learning or cognitive disabilities (e.g., reading disabilities, thinking, remembering,
- sequencing disabilities),
- other disabilities (e.g., epilepsy, short stature), and
- individuals with any combination of these disabling conditions (e.g., deaf-blindness).
Below is more explicit summary of disabilities affected by accessibility issues
(excerpt from Draft Notice: Web content Accessibility Guidelines Impact matrix
- Visual Disablilites
- low vision
- color deficit or distortions
- screen reader, screen magnifier, dynamic braille display
- Hearing Disablilites
- Cognitive, Learning, and Language Disablilites
- impairments of intelligence of thinking - developmental delay (mental retardation) and
- impairments of memory - forgetfulness, amnesia, memory illusions
other intellectual impairments
- aphasia - inability to interpret and/or formulate language symbols as a result of brain damage.
May affect expressive or receptive aspects of language and communication.
- learning disabilities - four categories: spoken language, written language, arithmetic,
- cognitive impairments (developmental delay and dementia)
- memory impairments, language disabilities
- learning disabilities (spoken language, written language - non-readers/dyslexia, arithmetic, reasoning).
- Physical Disablilites
- Neuromuscular impairments are impairments to nerves, brain, and muscles and include most
speech impairments). They may be divided into the following categories:
- interference with control (spasticity - voluntary movement is difficult due to contracted
- ataxia ("problems in motor programming and coordination"),
- athetosis & chorea (involuntary movements such as tremor).
- Skeletal impairments are impairments of bones, or joints, and missing limbs. This includes:
- joint movement limitations,
- small or malformed limbs,
- missing limbs,
- abnormal trunk size.
- Photo Sensitive Epilepsy
- Some people have seizures triggered by flickering or flashing in the 4 to 59 flashes per second
(Hertz) range with a peak sensitivity at 20 flashes per second as well as quick changes from dark to
light (like strobe lights).
How many People are affected by web accessibility? -
From documentation on the web, it is reported that 10-20% of many populations are affected disabilities stated above. (Not all are web accessibility issues, but many.)
Below are some summarized ADA accessibility tips and guidelines from externally noted documents to give a quick overview to UI designers and developers. See the "Resources" section below
for the most up to date information.
(excerpt from WAI: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0)
Summary of Guidelines from WAI: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0
- Guideline 1: Provide equivalent alternatives to auditory and visual content.
- Guideline 2: Don't rely on color alone.
- Guideline 3: Use markup and stylesheets and do so properly.
- Guideline 4: Clarify natural language usage.
- Guideline 5: Create tables that transform gracefully.
- Guideline 6: Ensure that pages featuring new technologies transform gracefully
- Guideline 7: Ensure user control of time-sensitive content changes.
- Guideline 8: Ensure direct accessibility of embedded user interfaces.
- Guideline 9: Design for device-independence.
- Guideline 10: Use interim solutions.
- Guideline 11: Use W3C technologies and guidelines.
- Guideline 12: Provide context and orientation information.
- Guideline 13: Provide clear navigation mechanisms.
- Guideline 14: Ensure that documents are clear and simple.
(excerpt from WAI: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 Quicktips Document)
The following "Quick Tips" introduce some key concepts of accessible Web design. Please note that these are
not complete guidelines, but only a memory prompt for concepts from the W3C Recommendation Web Content
Accessibility Guidelines 1.0. The complete guidelines include information critical to understanding and
implementing the Quick Tips. There is an easy-to-use Checklist, a detailed document describing Techniques for
implementing the Guidelines, and a Curriculum which explains how to use the guidelines.
For Complete Guidelines & Checklist: http://www.w3.org/WAI
- Images & animations. Use the alt attribute to describe the function of each visual.
- Image maps. Use client-side MAP and text for hotspots.
- Multimedia. Provide captioning and transcripts of audio, and descriptions of video.
- Hypertext links. Use text that makes sense when read out of context. For example, avoid "click here."
- Page organization. Use headings, lists, and consistent structure. Use CSS for layout and style where
- Graphs & charts. Summarize or use the longdesc attribute.
- Scripts, applets, & plug-ins. Provide alternative content in case active features are inaccessible or
- Frames. Use NOFRAMES and meaningful titles.
- Tables. Make line by line reading sensible. Summarize.
- Check your work. Validate. Use tools, checklist, and guidelines at www.w3.org/TR/WAI-WEBCONTENT.
Accessibility Consultant: Q/A Session
02.08.00 - Guidelines (application ui designs) compliancy questions regarding WIA: Web Content Accessibility 1.0 Document -
- Priorities and Conformance:
- What level must Oracle applications be compliant? A? Double-A? Triple-A? (related to all P1's, P1's and P2's, or P1's, P2's, and P3's.)
ANSWER: Most companies are "Double-A"...
- Should Oracle Applications use W3C compliance logo and signia in UI (say at footer?)
ANSWER: It may be a marketing and sales benefit to show that our internet apps are compliant. We can also solicit feedback from some of these internet sites regarding accessibility issues if need be.
- Guideline 1:
- "alt" tags to images, text must convey the same function or purpose as image. Who is responsible for providing this text? UI designers? development? p1
ANSWER: Look into freeware product called "Altifier", scans html doc and looks for missing alt tags. Seems UI designers should provide default alt tags for all gifs used in components, and suggest to customers alt language to use for custom imagery.
- provide non-text equivalents for information: to what extent is this needed? p1
ANSWER: This is a judgement call that should be made by ui designer...
- multimedia presentations: provide alternate audio track for visual... is this relevant to Oracle apps?
ANSWER: Not particularily... we have very little video track or video animation being used in oracle apps. Gif89a animations are not effected by this, because an "alt" tag can be provided for each gif animation (don't need audio track.)
If need to investigate more about audio tracks for multimedia presentations, check out SAMMY by Microsoft, and SMIL, W3C's markup language for multimedia presentations -- a captioning tool.
- Guideline 2: Color
- sufficient contrast: what is the level to determine sufficient? p2 for images, p3 for text
ANSWER: There is no "definitive" number to determine sufficient contrast. If we determine a sufficient contrast level (through usability results, design input, etc.), we could provide this information to W3C to help their guideline. For text contrast (p3) could provide
a preferences option to user that would, say up contrast by altering the css as necessary...
- Guideline 4:
- abbreviations: is Oracle's approved list of abbreviations ok? Should we also provide a key in the UI to explain abbreviation? (p3)
ANSWER: Need to check into the Oracle approved abbreviation list. Ultan? NLS? Could possibly provide longdesc for word? or key if necessary.
- nls: language selection is backend supported by cabo?
ANSWER: Need to check with cabo group...
- Guideline 5: Tables
- we use tables for layout and tabular content. is this ok? p2
ANSWER: Yes, this is a call that needs to be made. Tables for layout sacrifice performance for screen readers, but improve performance for low vision disabilities... At most, we need to minimize the use of tables for layout... and emphasis tables as tabular data. Complicated table structures being used for layout: action/navigation buttons; tabs and all levels of navigation...
- proper markup should be used for tables (cabo related.)
ANSWER: Need to check with cabo group...
- what is "summary" for table? does UI designer provide this? p3
ANSWER: In the guidelines, many tables have Headers in the UI that quantify the information being displayed in the table. If these headers are used consistently in the UI, "summary" information in the HTML code will not have to be provided.
- what are abbreviations for table headers? p3
ANSWER: Jim was unclear what this meant...
- Guideline 6
- what will page render like without stylesheet? (cabo) is page usable when rendered without stylesheet? p1
ANSWER: Need to work with cabo group to test and see what happens to pages... Magnifier technologies (people with low vision disabilities) will be most effected by lack of style sheet... does not have any impact on vision impaired.
- states, pages should "still work" with older browsers... how old?
ANSWER: 4.0 and above is pretty good, says Jim...
- Guideline 7
- moving content (animations) - do we use any? betsy will check.
ANSWER: gif89a animations are ok, because can provide alt tag to animation... if java animation, need to provide controls to stop/start animation.
- does this include rollovers on buttons?
ANSWER: no, these are just a different gif, with another alt tag...
- no autorefreshing, no redirects, no blink... (cabo related.)
ANSWER: We need to evaluate all apps to make sure the UI is not spec'ing any autorefreshes or redirects...
- Guideline 8
- components must be accessible - give example of what this guideline means... p1, p2
ANSWER: This guideline is aimed mostly at the use of java applets.
- Guideline 9
- provide keyboard shortcuts - currently our web based apps do not provide short cuts, should we? p3
ANSWER: Need to enstantiate use of key board short cuts for web based applications. Betsy will work with Tools, and production
apps to find out their list of short cuts... will compare with Netscape and IE short cuts... Also, need requirements from apps ui teams to assess what
functionality should have short cuts. Also, Betsy to check with cabo regarding technical feasability of shortcuts in web apps.
- Guideline 10
- pop-up windows - our designs are moving away from using pop-up windows, but still an option. should we avoid completely? p2
ANSWER: Yes, we should try to avoid where absolutely possible. Secondary windows are very problematic for screen readers and maintaining window focus.
At this point, Betsy to evaluate where secondary windows are used, and determine if still valid. Some secondary windows, like the "date picker" calendar, say, are ok. This widget just provides an
alternative method for entering data that can be entered in on the primary window as well. (i.e., disabled would never have to envoke that window to complete a task.) Some secondary windows (like Help) may become a usability issue
if we refresh help in the primary window. In those cases, Betsy will work with Steve (and usability) to deteremine when using a primary window (vs. secondary) becomes a usability issue. For any other cases where secondary windows are used, we need to rework the guidelines (and designs) as necessary.
- label must directly proceed form control. what if label wraps? alignment of label data ok? p2
ANSWER: Our alignment of label and data is good... need to be careful about translation, and if label wraps, it is still read before the control... so, when a screen reader reads text, the label is read before the control consistently.
- explain side by side text, and word wrapped columns. p3
ANSWER: Excessive word wrapping in columns is problematic for low vision disabilities (and magnifiers.)
- empty controls - put default placeholder characters in control not empty. Should we put instructions in control? (i.e., "Pick a City" as default entry for a poplist of cities, say?) p3
ANSWER: Possibly enstantiate the guideline (suggested in v1.0) to have the default item in a poplist (or field) curt instruction text.
- Guidleline 11
- provide preferences for accessiblity - should we require all apps have specific accessibility preferences? what would they be? p3
ANSWER: This could be a good idea... Betsy to work with Luke to give recommendations. Also, see Win98 MS accessibility wizard. This provides good ideas, also shows what an OS can control in regards to accessibility.
- must be w3c compliant... does this guideline refer to all levels of conformity?
ANSWER: a recurrsive guideline! can only be compliant to a certain level of undue burden, at that point, can only project plans to reconcile problems in future.
- Guideline 12
- is cabo using backend tags to represent heirarchy of information and relationships of information in UI? does UI group need to provide cabo or development teams with that type of information?
ANSWER: Need to check with cabo group...
- Guideline 13
- use meaningful text as links - guideline recommends action and navigation words to represent links. Would it be better to use "more information" or "more information about guidelines" as a link? or would it be better to use "save" or "save document xyz" as a link. The longer text is more explicit, but can add clutter to ui. p2
ANSWER: The more the better but could be nested in londescr tag, not in UI to prevent clutter...
- provide site map or toc - is this applicable to task-based applications? p2
ANSWER: Contextually a site map for a content web site is different than a tasked based web application. Including a site map or toc in the latter may act as a "training tool" though. Should investigate... maybe this is part of the help section.
- are our tabs and navigation levels ok?
- navigation bars to "highlight." what does this mean? p3
ANSWER: Check with cabo group, and w3c techniques document...
- what is an example of "front loading." p3
ANSWER: Giving information up front... our UI is successful with this.
- Guideline 14
- supplement text with graphic or auditory presentation to facilitate comprehension. What or who would determine complexity of information for this graphic or auditory supplement? p3
ANSWER: Not relevant to our web applications.