Accessibility Technology

Web Compliance Evaluation Strategies – All In One

Presenters:  Susan Cullen, Alen Davoodian, and Duc Ta from CSUN

This was my third presentation at the CSUN conference on Thursday, March 5.  I happen to work with these fine folks every day at CSUN, so I have a pretty good idea of what they’re going to talk about.  OK, I’ll admit that I’m a bit of a cheerleader 🙂

The CSUN Universal Design Center

  • Based at the CSUN conference, works for the entire California State University system
  • Technology should be usable to everyone regardless of their ability.
  • Build cultural support across the campus
  • Integrates accessibility knowledge into the expected skill set of staff; accessibility is a shared campus responsibility
  • Technology should require the lease amount of effort for users.  Don’t assume they will all engage technology in the same way.

Developing Sound Strategies for Evaluation Methods can be Challenging

  • Scope of work – client eval services cycle:  goals of page or apps defined > Cases functional goals defined > Time analysis and management > resource allocation > define deficiencies > evaluation report delivery > provide coding solutions or training as needed
  • Working with people of different responsibilities and abilities to deliver the most usable solution we can offer

Tools We Use

  • Firebug, WAVE toolbar, color contrast analyzer, Juicy Studio, Grayscale, Web Dev extensions, compliance sheriff, accessibility evaluation toolbar
  • The way you deploy an enterprise tool like Compliance Sheriff is very important

Evaluation Protocols for Compliance & Usability Testing

  • Level 1:  VPAT review, consider campus or system-wide impact of the product, share VPAT back to vendor
  • Level 2:  Limited criteria validation, web form app review, basic web page semantics, run CS scan on some checkpoints, provide recommendations
  • Level 3:  the “deep dive,” criteria validation based on CSU ATI requirements and full UDC testing, comprehensive testing, apps have coding that requires additional research and iterative testing, provide actual coding or workarounds for end users.
  • In short:  VPAT Checking > Spot Checking > Special Element Testing > Comprehensive
  • We categorized evaluation categories

High Impact Errors We See Frequently

  • Web forms
  • Drop-down nav
  • User interface, flow of navigation and error message handling
  • Misaligned tab order based on page function
  • Tables for layout that do not linearize
  • Lack of proper data tables markup
  • Lack of alt description of meaningful images
  • Drop-down “mega menu” and accordion controls within the Drupal CMS that CSUN uses
  • Inconsistent error handling

Executive Level Support

  • You have to have high-level institutional support
  • Band together with other campuses if you’re lucky enough to be a part of a state system and share your resources!

Compliance Sheriff Planning and Training

  1. CS campus management and distribution
  2. Campus periodic scans and reports
  3. Campus training procedure (beginner, intermediate, advanced)
  4. Campus web accessibility training procedure overview
  5. Deputy overview and announcement
  6. Departmental designees

Design Accessibility and Usability into your business processes


Accessibility Technology

Scaling Web Accessibility from Specialist Niche to Business-as-Usual

Presenter:  Jonathan Hassell from Hassell Inclusion


This was my second session at the CSUN conference on Thursday, March 5.  Jonathan spent some time talking about himself and his many awards and accomplishments, notably the UK accessibility standards, BS8878.  People in attendance received a copy of the first chapter of his new book, which is on sale for $50 here at the conference.

The Good News:  You’re in Demand

  • Large companies are taking accessibility seriously and are having trouble finding the right people to hire
  • Companies are looking for people “with the right skill sets”

What are the right skill sets?  What to do?

  • Technologies of course (WCAG 2.0, WAI-ARIA, etc.)
  • But the bad news is that nobody makes it on their own
  • You spent time learning good stuff, brought value to the organization, but maybe you’re not having the impact you want to have.  What to do?
  • Engage everybody in your organization.  You have to build the internal ecosystem.
  • Doing it all yourself will burn you out, which is bad for you and your organization
  • Know how to make collaboration successful
  • Prepare for your exit – the organization must be able to succeed without you


  • What is it that YOU want?
  • Who needs to be motivated for you to get what you want?
  • How will you convince them to spend time on accessibility rather than something else?
  • Convert the guy at the top, or everyone
  • Winning is good
  • Choose your emphasis depending on what your organization does
  • Work out what to say to who


  • Do staff and policies facilitate or inhibit accessibility?
  • You need strategy people batting for you, and they need to be effective delegators
  • Who is responsible for accessibility?
  • Split responsibilities up by job roles
  • Train people for their responsibilities, not everyone else’s
  • Train for things that don’t change, outsource advice on edge cases
  • Keep QA in-house, use external auditors
  • Don’t get too dependent on externals
  • Organizational web accessibility policy should be part-and-parcel of key policies (not it’s own standalone document – which nobody will read anyway)
  • Start with what is most strategically valuable
  • Governance needs to apply to all channels that you’re using
  • Categorize what’s most important to you and your users; how easy will it be to make them accessible.  Concentrate on enablers and pillars.
  • Be relaxed with innovators
  • Benchmark:  where you are, where you want to be, costs/benefits of getting there.  Where will you get the most value for money


  • Fix problems in your process; compliance is not sustainable!
  • Process needs to allow you to efficiently deliver product; also needs to be flexible, cost efficient
  • Effort and testing are often overlooked/underestimated in planning


  • Keep things going by capturing ROI
  • Leave a legacy by proving the worth of the work
  • Difficult to prove the value of the premium until you file a claim
  • Get good press coverage, it’s worth a LOT
  • Ability to recruit a diverse work force
  • Minimize customer complaints (make evangelists, not complainants)
  • Start counting:  analytics matters!



Accessibility Technology

CSS, Accessibility and You

Presenter:  Derek Featherstone from Simply Accessible Inc., @feather | #a11yCSS | Derek’s slides on slideshare

This is the first presentation I attended on Thursday, March 5 at the #CSUN15 conference.  I’ve attended a few of Derek’s presentations in the past and am looking forward to this one.  I hope he covers some of the more advanced CSS topics that have come to the forefront of web design in the last couple years.  I’m nursing a nasty headache I woke up with, so I hope my notes are up-to-snuff!  Bear with me, please.

Started with a photo of a shower tap at a British hotel he stayed in.  Both knobs are red.  There was a text description showing that the left tap operates the shower, right tap operates the bath (six feet away).  LESSON:  group closely related items; the “principle of proximity.”

Principle of proximity has a huge impact on people with disabilities

  • Accessibility does not just mean “screen reader,” although many people think this
  • Multi-column layouts make using an interface very challenging for someone with low vision.
  • Demonstration of a TSA web page through a “virtual straw.” The audience was invited to close one eye, and hold one hand in front of their open eye to approximate low vision.  The page was very difficult to read – it had to be scanned.  AND YET, the page meets every WCAG success criteria for a screen reader.
  • A redesigned single-column version of this same page was significantly easier to view and was also much better for mobile.
  • All of this is made possible via CSS.  While HTML is critical to everything we do with accessibility, the impact of CSS is equally profound.
  • SOLUTION:  use the straw test to find layout and design challenges for people with low vision.  It will change the way you view design.
  • We need to design for a whole range of accessibility use cases:  blind, low-vision, hearing, mobility/dexterity (fine motor control, low-strength, single-handedness), cognitive (attention, memory-related, literacy, routines/predictability), vestibular issues (animated navigation elements can make some people dizzy, like the room spinning when you’re laying on your bed drunk), speech

3 Types of Relationships

  • – all the detail is in this article
  • Explicit:  example – tying labels to form fields programmatically
  • Implicit:  example – text labels next to or below form fields
  • Content-based relationships:  example – form entry error messages that appear at the top of a page

Screen Reader Compatible Does NOT Equal Accessible

As a developer, I started

Background images over-used and abused

  • Example:  flip cards (duplicate call to action links – i.e. “flip”)
  • Solution:  changed the link details, which made it easier for screen reader users, but NOT voice recognition software.
  • Two primary mantras in voice recognition software are:  Dictation, Command-and-Control
  • Recommended changing to “Flip to see details for xyz product”

Call to action alt-text is critical…

  • …especially when using CSS sprites. Start using SVG instead of sprites.
  • Alt text that reflects the call to action.  Image and text alternative in the same layer.  USE SVG
  • Background images:  Best Buy web site, switched to “high contrast mode,” background images disappear
  • Bing maps example:  search icon in search field disappears
  • JQuery drop-down menu example
  •  When CSS background images are off, what content functionality or affordances are missing?
  • New feature in IE11 for targeting high-contrast mode


Accessibility Technology

Aiming for Excellence: Accessibility at a Fortune 50 Company

Presenter:  Toby Erickson from Target ( and global)

This is the sixth and last presentation I attended on Wednesday, March 4 at the #CSUN15 conference.  Pretty much everyone in the accessibility space is aware of the Target case from several years ago, but I’m willing to bet that – like me – not everyone knows how they’ve worked accessibility into their workflows.  Let’s find out, shall we?

This is Toby’s third CSUN conference.

We have a backlog of stories to share…

Quick Facts

  • 1,790 US retail stores, 366,000 employees, omni-channel guest experience
  • Fourth most-visited retails web site in the US
  • 26 million unique visitors each month
  • Mobile is 60% of traffic
  • Cartwheel app added 2 million new users over the holiday period, surpassed $1 billion in promotional sales

Aiming for Excellence

  • Used biathlete competition as a metaphor for the work done
  • Compliance:  Target and the NFB
  • WCAG AA was the target standard
  • Controls & Monitoring:  GRC model (governance, risk management, compliance).  At the time, we were a waterfall shop.
  • a11y Authority and Prioritization:  found many issues from release to release and we had a real challenge with our partners.
  • Issue severity & launch criteria:  we use Jira to capture information in detail for our team.

Lap 1: Hits

  • Identifying issues and how to fix
  • Engaging the dev and Release management organization
  • Authority through GRC

Lap 1: Misses

  • Need to engage earlier in the process
  • Reduce defects and resulting churn
  • Improving partnerships focused on solutions

Lap 2: Customers and Compliance

  • Commitment to our customers:  better testing and identifying what our objectives were to make the experience for our customers easier and better.
  • Proactive engagement:  feasibility and planning.  Here’s what the waterfall concept looked like:  Concept Review > Design Review > DEV Review > QA/a11y Review.
  • We also had to work with vendors and third party agreements via contract agreements that were enforceable (i.e. Master Service Agreements).
  • Partner in innovation.  Risk in GRC can be a way to prevent innovation, and we wanted to avoid that.
  • Shared a Fall Style Campaign Concept with a theatrical video starring Kristen Bell that would allow clothing and accessories purchasable through the player that displayed the episodes.  The player contained a vertical carousel containing products.  Question:  who did the audio descriptions?  They were done by CaptionMax.

Lap 2:  Hits

  • Awareness training identified new champions
  • Grassroots success with motivating partners
  • UX partnership leverages usability
  • Team seen as partners in solutions, not limitations on innovation
  • Ready for organizational change!

Lap 2:  Misses

  • Need to distribute accountability even further (need to embed this deeply into processes)
  • Need to prioritize efforts to focus on greatest guest impact
  • Look further ahead and think strategically

Break in the action

  • 18 Strong
  • Diversity of experience & influence
  • Shared the members of the Target Accessibility Team

Lap 3:  Vision and Shared Goals

  • Vision & Mission Statement:  we want to be a leader, committed to quality digital experiences (Toby read the actual mission statement, which was quite a bit longer)
  • Team Positioning and Roles:  reorganizations are fact of life, I’ve seen a few of them at Target and I’ve only been here for three years.  We needed to shed our testing baggage, so we changed our team name to the accessibility team.
  • Corporate Purpose & Beliefs:  this process helped to shape our brand position in a big way; there was a direct connection between accessibility and  (Toby read the actual purpose and beliefs statement, which was quite a bit longer)

Lap 3: Hits

  • Vision and Mission set as north tar
  • Senior leadership support
  • Delivering on business goals

Lap 3: Misses

  • Prioritizing our strategic work
  • Procedures needed to make teams successful

Lap 4: Initiatives

  • Identifying Key Initiatives:  patterns we can inculcated in all individuals, testing, training, communications (like we’re doing here)
  • Procedures that engage the team:  accountability, documentation.  Describe what accessibility means at Target, using criteria integrating WCAG and Target-specific guest experience, weekly meetings to develop procedures; writing and organizing for diverse teams.  Question:  how did you scale the team up?  We evolved the team as we went.  We wanted these procedures completed quickly, but revisited.  Shared the color and color contrast procedure, error messaging process.  Example:  logos must follow this procedure when they are:  created by or for Target, and are Target’s IP, and promote, advertise, involve, or are associated with Target’s products, services, experiences or campaigns.
  • Agility required: we implemented an agile process.

Lap 4:  Hits

  • Engaged and inspired team
  • Engaged and inspired partners
  • Improved overall performance
  • Reduced accessibility issues by 85%

Lap 4: Misses

  • None for this lap!

Lap 5?

  • Knowing long-term goals
  • Know how you’re going to make it by making a plan!
  • Keep at it
Accessibility Technology

Real-Time Conversations: From TTY to Real-Time Text (RTT)

Presenter:  Aaron Bangor, Lead Accessible Technology Architect, AT&T Corporate Accessibility Technology Office

This is the fifth presentation I attended on Wednesday, March 4 at the #CSUN15 conference.  I’m slowly getting worn down here :-/  I’m personally interested in this session because of some recent development efforts me and my development team at CSUN have had with our National Center On Deafness (NCOD).  Not exactly sure what AT&T has on tap here, I hope it’s relevant.

Where are we with making voice communications accessible to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community?

  • Voice communications used to go through the phone network (POTS – Plain Old Telephone Service), but the underlying circuit switching really has not changes much.  Now it mostly goes through the Internet, but the need to communicate in real-time among individuals has not changed
  • In the mid-1960s, the then-old teletype machine was adapted to create the TeleTypewriter (TTY)
  • TTY’s purpose is to provide non-voice service (aka data) over a phone line.
  • Reviewed the basics of a TTY call, including some info on how TTY work over cellular networks now.
  • 1,400 Hz and 1,800Hz tones can carry text.

Benefits and Drawbacks

  • Works well for people with hearing and speech disabilities
  • Interoperable
  • Text-based
  • Real-time
  • Interactive
  • Intermixed with voice channel
  • BUT…it’s slow
  • Turn-based/half-duplex
  • Resource intensive from a network resource perspective
  • Dedicated network resource needed for wireless
  • Requires separate assistive technology not commonly used by telephone customers without disabilities

 TTY is not

  • Instant messaging
  • Email
  • Over-the-top messaging (WhatsApp, Kik, etc.)
  • Video conferencing
  • Text messaging (SMS)
  • These are all services that can – and are – being used to communicate instead of using a TTY on a voice call

 TTY Meets the Internet Protocol

  • TTY tends to work best on a wired connection with QoS, not so great when using lossy codecs
  • There are challenges to doing this (like there was going from Standard Definition to High Definition TV)
  • Packet loss, Echo Cancellation, voice-optimized compression techniques

What is Real-Time Text, Benefits and Drawbacks

  • IP/Data, not voice
  • Lightweight
  • Less sensitive to packet loss
  • Standards-based
  • Conversational, real-time
  • BUT…it has limited adoption to date (mostly Northern Europe, not directly interoperable with legacy TTYs (internetworking function needed)

RTT is where we’re headed

  • Endorsed / recommended by many areas
  • FCC Emergency Access Advisory Committee (EAAC)
  • National Emergency Number Association (NENA); next-gen 911
  • US Access Board’s information and communication technology (ICT) standards and guidelines
  • RTT is an accessible technology that does not require a 3rd party piece of hardware to work

Are we there yet?  Not Really…

  • Much work needs to be done to build a robust, accessible service that also does not leave anyone behind
  • Network changes required to support RTT
  • Interoperability between RTT implementations (standards-based)
  • Software changes for IP phones and wireless handsets
  • Changes to ensure legacy TTY internetworking; network gateways between IP and legacy networks
  • Points of connection between legacy equipment and VoIP networks

Final Thoughts

  • TTY was a great engineering solution in its day, but it was designed for a type of technology that is disappearing
  • RTT is more user-friendly
  • Takes advantage of newer network technologies
  • Builds accessibility into the service, not requiring separate equipment
  • Opens up possibilities for all users to interact over the “phone” in more creative and expressive ways because it will be built into phones, not via separate hardware
  • It is the essence of Universal Design