Web Accessibility Questions Answered by Expert David Berman

July 27, 2015 BY LILY BOND
Updated: June 3, 2019


On June 17th, David Berman presented an in-depth webinar on demystifying WCAG 2.0. The webinar lead to a hearty Q&A session, and unfortunately, we were unable to get to all of the audience questions. David was kind enough to follow up on any unanswered questions in the post below, which includes useful web accessibility resources, links, and tools.

What was the name of the tool (developed in Canada) that you could use to see a site as it would appear to someone who is color blind, etc.?

    The tool is called aDesigner, published by Eclipse. It’s available online at no charge (and for very little cost you can become a sponsor of Eclipse … we proudly did so and encourage you to do the same!)

Certain YouTube videos provide the CC option and a transcript, but they tend to be incorrect. What is the best way to work with this issue, or the best tool to use to provide a transcript?

    YouTube has a feature that automatically generates captions if the video has a very clear voice track and there is only one speaker. The results are never excellent (neither in wording nor in pacing), however, they can be a good starting point for creating one’s own captions.

    However, once YouTube has taken a crack at it, you can then improve upon them using a variety of tools: I have a full blog post on how to “roll your own” captions. Having said that, we find it much simpler (and we get better results) by simply having 3Play Media do all our captioning: it’s so easy, and shockingly inexpensive.

Are the WCAG recipes you briefly covered available on the web?

    Some are. However, they are all available in our learning guides or from Amazon.com… or in our in-person or online courses.

When using Microsoft Word’s “Save as PDF” function, does it save it to the PDF/UA standard?

    It is possible to get a Word file to export to a PDF file that is accessible. However, just using the “Save As” won’t do it. You need to build the Word file correctly, then carefully follow the recipe I provided in the slides.

    Then, depending upon the complexity of the Word file, you may or may not need to take additional steps in Acrobat PDF (or another PDF manipulation tool) to get to a fully accessible PDF. And for a file to report as PDF/UA compliant, at the very least you’ll have to “flip” the PDF/UA flag once you are done in order to indicate that the file is indeed compliant.

If you really do not have the resources or staff to perform inventories or these workflows and recipes, would you recommend a non-profit or public library never scale up or avoid media all together?

    Not at all! Rather, I would say that you can’t afford not to. The good news is that by embracing accessibility standards, we can actually drive down the costs of publishing for most organizations… as well as increase audience, improve search, do the right thing, and be sure not to end up on the wrong side of either regulations or history.

Does ADA require universities to make all videos, whether YouTube or library materials, captioned?

    The ADA does not specifically require online videos to have captions because the ADA was passed in 1990 when the Internet did not stream video. However, since that time, the purview of the ADA has expanded to include video captioning.

    Courts have ruled that commercial entities like Netflix, which stream online video, should be construed as “places of public accommodation,” requiring them to provide captioning. A recent lawsuit filed by the NAD against MIT and Harvard for a lack of captioning cites the ADA. The outcome of these cases will set a fundamental precedent for all educational institutions in the U.S.

If a faculty member lists a resource (video without transcript, for example) as optional, would it have to be accessible?

    If there is an accessible equivalent, then identifying an accessible equivalent to that content would be sufficient.

It would be great to get links to the tools and sites mentioned today.

Could you explain the role of tabindex in designing the content of PDF?

    Tabindex is an HTML construct for controlling the tabbing order in HTML, not PDF. However, making sure the tabbing order in PDF files is logical is also a critical thing to do for accessibility (and usability).

Is accessibility built into Word for the Mac platform?

    Unfortunately not. Microsoft has worked really hard, especially in version 2010, 2013, and 2016, to include accessibility features in Word for Windows. However, sadly, these features are missing from Word for Mac: even the new version released this year lacks the accessibility features of the Windows versions. So, if you are serious about making accessible Word files (or accessible PDF from Word files), you’ll need to add Word for Windows to your workflow.

Are there companies that cater to helping higher ed become compliant (making course material accessible, captioning)?

    Yup! My company and 3Play Media are some of them! However we’d need to know more specifics about precisely what you seek to achieve in order to provide the best advice.

Do you know if publishers have a department devoted to making their products accessible?

    The degree to which publishers are producing accessible products varies greatly. However, as regulatory deadlines kick in, more and more educational publishers are discovering that they risk losing substantial market share if they cannot provide their content in an accessible format.

Does technology have something for the damaged optic nerve?

More and more educational publishers are discovering that they risk losing substantial market share if they cannot provide their content in an accessible format.

    I’m not sure if this question is seeking a medical solution or an assistive technology for someone living with a damaged optic nerve.

    If the former, this question should be asked of a medical specialist.

    If the latter, then, yes, we have a growing variety of assistive technologies to assist with all severities of visual challenges.

WCAG 2.0 was covered briefly. Any good resources the details of WCAG 2.0 for beginners?

    Absolutely: I recommend our learning guide on WCAG 2.0, available at davidberman.com/store. There are also plenty of free resources available via Google Search.

Where on your website are some of the resources you mention? Are they free?

There are many free tools online for checking website accessibility do you know if there are any free online tools for checking a simple reusable learning object that might be inserted into an LMS or stand alone?

    Not exactly. Some of the tools (such as color checkers) can be adapted to work with any e-learning tool, but short of building a reusable learning object library based in HTML5 (such as the Canada Revenue Agency has done), I’m not aware of anything off the shelf.

Is QWERTY an appropriate layout for an accessible keyboard?

    It depends upon the situation. For example, people using an eye tracker for an onscreen keyboard will typically prefer a keyboard be arranged alphabetically or a keyboard be arranged so the most frequent letters are in the center of their gaze. Even for someone who touchtypes at a high speed on QWERTY, the muscle memory doesn’t transfer to the eyes very well!

Is there a free or inexpensive way for faculty to caption video easily, outside of YouTube?

    Yes. 3Play. Or read my blog entry (see above).

Can you recommend any case studies online that show already existing sites being broken down and reaching A or AA step by step?

    No, I cannot think of one.

Does this apply to Office for Mac 2011 as well?

    See above.

Can the eye tracker be paired with Dasher?

    Yes, I’ve tried it once, with mixed results.

Is there a good source for where we can find WCAG 2.0 standards in easily readable/digestible language?

Wow, how did Ontario get the law passed for PRIVATE organizations to comply with accessibility rules?

    Awesome, huh? That’s a story that’s still being written!

Can you make a separate page for something that can’t be made accessible (say, using a Flash element)?

    Absolutely. As long as you make the equivalent content readily available.

I’ve seen the Section 508 checklist. However, is there a checklist of things we can/should check for in the documents that you spoke about?

    Yes. Essentially you need to walk through all the applicable WCAG 2.0 success criteria through the lens of a document. Our “Accessible PDF” learning guide does this.

How does Quebec compare to Ontario as #a11y “Ground Zero”?

    It is not as strong. Its legislation only applies to the public sector. It is also frustrating that Quebec’s twist on a WCAG 2.0-like standard is only available in French: there is no official English translation.

What about dynamic Content Management Systems, like WordPress? Or eLearning authoring applications? Any recipes for Articulate, Camtasia, Lectora, or Adobe eLearning Suite?

    WordPress can be made 100% WCAG 2.0 compliant. So can many other CMS. Perhaps I should do a webinar on just that… as we do have course material that covers all the major CMS. Same for all of these eLearning applications: we have a course and learning guide that goes through all of WCAG 2.0, including recipes for special platforms such as Articulate.

Does WCAG 2.0 cover dyslexic-friendly fonts?

    No, it does not. The one success criterion that mentions typeface design is Level AAA, and even it only recommends sans serif typefaces…and not even as a compliance issue.

Does assistive technology reduce the need to make Web content accessible?

    It’s more like assistive technology gives you more reason to make Web content accessible.

How do government agencies respond to the democratic implications of poor Web #a11y? (Quebec’s Ministre des services gouvernementaux has been tackling related issues.)

    This is a big topic. Call me: we should talk!

Are there further initiatives about #a11y based out of Carleton?

    Absolutely: 3-D printed prosthetic limbs… wheelchairs with hydraulic lifts… apparatus that make it far safer to fall over… a bunch of award-winning industrial design, as well as more e-accessibility content potentially on a micro-learning platform. I’m just a small part of a lot of remarkable innovation.

3play media logo in blue

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