Virtual Cafe Scientifique, University of Southampton

Virtual Cafe Scientifique

Accessibility Checks

Archived site - this website is out of date and kept online for reference only.

An updated ECS Virtual Café Scientifique is currently under development, as part of the EPSRC POLMAT project.

The following information is also available from our training website http://access.ecs.soton.ac.uk/blog/training/    

Designer’s Dilemma: Availability and Meaningfulness of Numbers 
Taken from The Trace Center (University of Wisconsin) 

Accessible Design of Consumer Products 

“In trying to make products more accessible, the question of numbers quickly arises. How large should lettering be? What size button is large enough? How much pressure is too much, or not enough? In trying to make designs more accessible there are two tough principles that one has to come to grips with early. 

1.        You cannot make a product absolutely accessible. You can make it more accessible, but there will always be people who cannot use it. 
2.        Therefore… There are no magic numbers. There are no numbers to tell you that you have gone far enough and nothing more will help anyone. 

At first this is hard to accept. Everyone wants a number to design to. Occasionally minimal numbers for minimal required accessibility are set, but … 

  • They only can be set for a particular type of device (a phone, an elevator button, etc.). Such numbers are not possible for a set of general guidelines such as these, which relate to all products and all disabilities. What should be specified as the “ideal knob size” in a set of guidelines that covers wristwatches, kitchen stoves, and Walkman™ stereos?
  • They only specify a minimum accessibility threshold (usually required by law or regulation). 

They always leave someone out that should be accommodated if possible in a particular product design.” 
There are many sites that offer advice about web accessibility and usability
“It is essential that several different components of Web development and interaction work together in order for the Web to be accessible to people with disabilities. These components include: 


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Essential Components of Web Accessibility

  •  content - the information in a Web page or Web application, including:
  •  natural information such as text, images, and sounds
  •  code or markup that defines structure, presentation, etc.
  •  Web browsers, media players, and other “user agents”
  •  assistive technology, in some cases – screen readers, alternative keyboards, switches, scanning software, etc.
  •  users‘ knowledge, experiences, and in some cases, adaptive strategies using the Web
  •  developers - designers, coders, authors, etc., including developers with disabilities and users who contribute content
  •  authoring tools - software that creates Web sites

 evaluation tools - Web accessibility evaluation tools, HTML validators, CSS validators, etc.” (W3C WAI

Web Accessibility WCAG Theme Song (YouTube Video with captions) 

The rest of this page links to the Web2Access website that provides users, researchers and developers with a resource for reading about the accessibility of existing Web 2.0 services.  It also provides a series of checks for reviewing new software and web services for accessibility. The test results are added to the database and once checked by the team, they go live for others to see. The User Experience Honeycomb (Peter Morville, 2004) 

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The User Experience Honeycomb (Peter Morville, 2004) 

Accessibility and Ease of Use 

The check points allow you to evaluate key accessibility areas of a service or product. Anyone can use this evaluation system. Remember making the documents users download from a web site accessible is also important.   
Check-lists and tests for individual parts of a service are not an ideal way to address the issue of how easy it may be to use on-line materials or software – try to think holistically and perhaps use the JISC TechDis Accessibility Passport Generator. “The Accessibility Passport is a way of creating a focused dialogue between the developers and the users of online resources. 

It offers developers a way of explaining how they have taken accessibility and inclusion into account in designing learning materials. It also offers users and practitioners a way of giving feedback on how effective the mechanism has been.”