Wednesday, August 17, 2005

MDAWG Event at the National Library for the Blind

The very kind people at the National Library for the Blind are hosting our next meeting which will be at 6pm on the 31st August.

The agenda for the evening is:
  • Brief overview of access technologies (5 – 10 mins)
  • Common accessibility problems – with access technology and live Internet link (15 mins)
  • Some unusual problems on sites where accessibility is otherwise very good (15 mins)
  • Suggest (your own?) sites to look at live with access technology (30 mins)
  • Break into groups and have a go yourself with JAWS and Supernova (30 mins)
The address of the venue is:

National Library for the Blind
Far Cromwell Road
Bredbury
Stockport
SK6 2SG
UK

(Location on Google Maps)

We had a superb attendance at the last event so pre-registration for this event is important. Please let us know via awg@virtuaffinity.com.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

What is website accessibility?

If you want to develop accessible websites but have little experience of doing so, you may not have an understanding of what is meant by "website accessibility".

The following articles are a good place to start:

Resources and links

This is an ongoing collection of links to sources of information about website accessibility and tools to help you develop accessible content.

Please use the comments feature to suggest an addition to this list, or to let us know about a busted link.
Tools and software that can help you to develop accessible content:
  • A-Prompt - An application for Windows that examines web pages for barriers to accessibility, performs automatic repairs when possible, and assists the author in manual repairs when necessary. A bit more rigourous than Bobby.
  • Fangs - An extension for Firefox that attempts to emulate screen readers.
  • Internet Explorer Developer Toolbar Beta - Microsoft's, ahem, version of the Firefox Web Developer extension, but IE only.
  • Web Developer - An extension for Firefox that does lots of cool stuff, like swapping out images for alternative text, identifying images with missing or empty alt tags, validate your local XHTML, and much more.
  • Web Accessibility Toolbar - A toolbar for Internet Explorer that does pretty much the same cool stuff as the Web Developer extension for Firefox.

Reasons to be

The Manchester Digital Accessibility Working Group is focussed on bringing together digital industries in the Greater Manchester region, and further afield if you're prepared to travel, for the purpose of developing expertise in accessible website delivery. We do this by sharing expert knowledge as freely as the individual member is comfortable with.

Our target audience is varied and is not restricted to technical experts by any means. We also encourage customer facing individuals. It's critical that the client understands the necessity and benefit of having a properly accessible website.

The organisation is in an infant state but already having an effect. Attendance at the inaugural event, held on 13 July at the offices of Manchester Digital Development Agency, was superb and we know that many who attended have improved their working practice and derived real benefit already.

Our next event will be at the National Library for the Blind in Stockport on the 31 August. Attendance looks like being very good and places are limited. Preference will be given to Manchester Digital members but non members will be able to gain access to the events for a nominal fee though the event at the National Library for the Blind will be free. More details of the event will follow.