Category Archives: Accessibility

[REPORT] Social Media as a Tool for Inclusion
Date Created: November 6, 2012  Date Modified: November 19, 2012

I was quite interested in this report by the Canadian Human Resources and Skills Development Canada; Social Media as a Tool for Inclusion. I have looked into some of the issues around special-needs users of the internet, and have dealt with web accessibility in the front lines, but what piked my interest in this report was that it covered two demographics often overlooked–Indigenous and the homeless.

The objectives of the study were to determine the extent, nature and benefits of social media use by five vulnerable populations – Aboriginal peoples, people with disabilities, recent immigrants, the homeless and seniors – and by the institutions that serve them, and to explore the extent to which such media help to overcome social isolation and barriers to inclusion

The homeless are often an invisible demographic, and in a traditional web1.0 paradigm the notion of sitting down to a desktop computer to surf the internet is not seen as in the capacity for the homeless, however the more the net has moved onto devices the more uptake and more visible this demographic will be. The digital divide persists, but the advances of technology are making it easier for users with limited means to be able to access the digital realm.

…given the dire daily challenges of the homeless and those that serve them. It is surprising that no pertinent Canadian academic studies on this topic were unearthed, online or otherwise, during the course of this research. Nevertheless, anecdotal reporting indicates that the internet and social media are extensively used by the homeless, especially those under 30, and this finding resonates with those of several U.S. studies on the topic

Having dealt with homelessness first hand, I knew from my own experiences what benefits I gained from the use of social media–in fact the catalyst for me to create a Facebook account back in 2007 was part of a need to reconnect with those who I had lost contact with during my diaspora.Having dealt with homelessness first hand, I knew from my own experiences what benefits I gained from the use of social media–in fact the catalyst for me to create a Facebook account back in 2007 was part of a need to reconnect with those who I had lost contact with during my diaspora.

The number one issue for homeless people is loneliness; many have left behind them a trail of lost or damaged relationships. Facebook is seen to help the homeless regain contact with family members and actually help them rebuild relationships. A youth worker writes: “I frequently use Facebook as a means of staying in touch with youth who are homeless. They are often without a regular phone or address, but will find a way to update their Facebook status. This way I can continue to support them wherever they are at.”

UPDATE: If you are homeless in Western Australia, the Department of Housing have a homeless assistance hotline you can call: 1800 065 892 for help and assistance.

An AGLC3 Plugin
Date Created: October 6, 2012  Date Modified: October 8, 2012

I decided after posting my first LAW150 assignment I realised that lawyers dont really hate HTML, its just too much effort to manually code tags or worse still paste MS Word generated HTML into most web text areas.

A simple solution would be to hack the CSS and add things like Act classes, but that would be out of the scope for some legal bloggers who have to dedicate more time to legal research than learning how to CSS.

It was pointed out early on that one could use the “i” button, well that puts text in <em> tags, which for Accessibility, is not appropriate.

A BETTER solution would be to create a simple WordPress plugin that adds the functionality without having to manually edit any CSS files.

To use this with the shortcode, simply place the square brackets around the [ Act ] Name of the Act [ /Act ] 2001. Im currently working on shortcodes for Australian jurisdictions to make it even easier for those “dumb lawyers” 🙂

This is still in BETA, as I just started this on a rainy Sunday morning; I aim to create a short code for this to simplify it even more, but for now its in a testing stage.

UPDATE: Now prints 12pt Times, but I dont use printers so I cant test it (too many years not printing things @DEC)

Lawyers hate HTML
Date Created: August 1, 2012  Date Modified: December 27, 2012

I had my first Law lecture this morning, prior I was in the Murdoch Bookshop stacking up on some tomes I will be needing on this endeavour (and a couple more I just wanted to get). I got home enthused to start reading this new type of littérateur that I will be battling over the next few years, and heeding the advice of my lecturer: That it takes a little bit of a learning curve to get use to legal writing, I decided to start on one of the law books that wasnt part of my required reading material, but was something that I felt more palatable for someone with my background in web–Internet and E-Commerce Law, Business and Policy.

Imediatly I scanned the contents for a topic that I could relate to; Chapter 6 – Domain names and trade marks. Reading the section on WHOIS was where I started. Everyone who works web knows WHOIS, so reading this very legal run-down of something that we as webbys take for granted is… refreshing in a sense. Then I got all academic on the shit and I saw the real problem–well from my pedantic web paradigm anyway. I went to look up one of the references in the United States-Australia Free Trade Agreement, Art 17.3.2 and clicking on that link you see why Im pissed off. Numbered paragraphs that should be ordered lists!, no text anchors!, emphasis where it should be italic!. These things matter if this were a published print document; all hell would break loose if this were printed like this. But on the web, do the document custodians care? Are they even aware that HTML markup can be used to present the information in a more accessible manner?.

I am yet to look into W3C giudelines for web content; due however to the differing nature of legal style requirements in jurisdictions arount the world, I doubt an international standard could be reached specifically relating to Acts. Surely tho, the same W3C guidelines for ordered lists on other web content would apply to the layout of a legal document?. Emphasis and Italic however I see it as a breach, an Act must be written in italics by legal style convention (law?), not emphasised when read or interpreted by a text reader. What this neglect in the article of the USAFTA linked is a clear neglect the legal community have for the web community, or at least HTML.

UPDATE: When going over some online sesources provided for the unit, I came accross the below image. Please feel free to comment.

Image to point out the Short Title of an Act

There was no Alt text , title, or description of this image on the LMS.

An image to outline the correct citing of cases

This image was much worse not only did it not contain any attributes in the HTML to assist, it could have been built as a simple interactive app that would be able to meet an accessable standard

Occupy Web Technology
Date Created: November 21, 2011  Date Modified: May 2, 2012

The “Occupy” brand has exploded, Im not going to get into all the different products latching onto the Occupy theme–that would take to long. What I have found a little interesting is that two Occupy movements have popped up that I think are worth a mention here, they are Occupy Flash and Occupy HTML. Oh dear.

Lets start with Occupy Flash. Flash is propriety software that is distributed by the corporate giant Adobe, after they purchased their biggest competitor–much to my annoyance at the time. At the time I saw it as Adobe creating a web monopoly, something the OWS have been vocal about since they launched their brand. Since then the web has changed and the Macromedia stable is nolonger the dux-nutz of web development tools. Who uses Dreamweaver as much as they did in 2001?. Flash managed to survive the Web 2.0 upgrade by catering toward a different market, and it worked; testimony to that was Microsofts attempt at encroaching Adobe’s market share with Silverlight… To any webmonkey claiming flash is dead, just log into Google Analytics and right click on the map overlay!

However the folk at Occupy Flash seem to think otherwise:

Flash Player is dead. Its time has passed. It’s buggy. It crashes a lot. It requires constant security updates. It doesn’t work on most mobile devices. It’s a fossil, left over from the era of closed standards and unilateral corporate control of web technology. Websites that rely on Flash present a completely inconsistent (and often unusable) experience for fast-growing percentage of the users who don’t use a desktop browser. It introduces some scary security and privacy issues by way of Flash cookies.

Flash makes the web less accessible. At this point, it’s holding back the web.

All of the above could be true of any web technology; Sharepoint, iOS, .NET, their all guilty to some extent. Holding back the web? well back in the late 90’s it was Flash that was the fore-front of rich web, and without it we would have never seen any of the Web 2.0 technology we have today; Google Maps, Youtube… I could go on.

Then there is the counter argument from the Occupy HTML folk:

Flash is mature. It’s supported by all major desktop browsers. It’s stable when used properly. If not, it crashes a lot, just like every other technology. It requires constant security updates, just like every other web technology. It doesn’t work well on most mobile devices, and for good reasons. It’s a content plugin, developed during the era of closed standards and unilateral corporate control of web technology. Websites that rely on Flash can present a unique (and often unparalleled) experience for the massive percentage of users on a desktop browser. Flash powers some amazing experiences that work consistently across all of the major browsers in a way that cannot be replicated without Flash technology.

Championing simplistic statements regarding web technologies makes the web less educated.
At this point, it’s holding back the web.

A “content” plugin? well thats news to me–altho the XML data connector is a great little object to display your content in a visually pleasing way, Flash is for the most part asthetically driven as opposed to content driven (but maybe my definition of content differes from the writers?). The point about Flash working consistently accross browsers is a misnomer too–Konqueror anyone?.

As someone who wasted MANY years of my life with ActionScript, Im not one to quickly bash Macromedia’s Adobe’s rich-web software. That said, having years of experience dealing with an anti-Flash market, and the shortcomings of the platform, Im not one to instantly praise it. Flash is still useful in certain situations, and HTML5 does not get full cross browser support (yet). Really its like comparing Apple’s and Wintel’s.

Im not going to bash either technology, both are useful, both are required by the market. Both cater to a different market share. And most importantly: Both can co-exist on the web. If we as developers and designers dismiss one tech for another then we are only limiting ourselves to one market or the other.

Live and let live.

Layout Changes (navigation)
Date Created: September 26, 2011  Date Modified: September 26, 2011

So I have spent the afternoon knee deep in CSS customizing the navigation and Im nearly happy with the layout. Now my problem is to go thru and edit each post to fit within the layout, there are about 6 blogs of mine I have bought together in this site and none had the same template, tho most of my blogger accounts are not the issue–its the bleepin Murdoch blog that has given me the most drama so far–and it does not suprise me given that we could only choose from a few templates and no access to the template files.

Im yet to check this site in IE; I know thats not best practice but I spent the last 12 months building spesifically for IE (UNDA company policy was Microsoft-centric), so now that Im free to work on my own site Im quietly avoiding that little blue “E”…

On the topic of IE: one thing I did notice is that the Twenty Eleven theme sitll supports IE6. Great for people with computers that still have windows 98–but not nessisary for anyone (read: everyone) else. Im tempted to take out all the “if IE6” CSS, or put a javaScript browser detectioin that redirects IE6 users to Microsoft’s downloads page but thats a bit conceded and arrogant.

The market share of IE6 is now at 2.0%, less than Safari, less than the more standards compliant Opera. Im not forced to support it but if I dont, its basically saying Im only 98% of a web developer, as Im only serving potentially 98% of the market.

I guess its something to think for another day, I’ve done enough for now..

Accessibility and the iPad
Date Created: September 21, 2011  Date Modified: September 21, 2011

In one of the forums Im a member I read the following regarding accessibility and the iPad:

have been working with an EIP student to work out the best way for her to use her iPad, ideally she would like enlarged text and voice-over (see quote below) , she does not need text highlighted. It seems that it is not possible to do both using the iPad accessibility options – any ideas? Apps? For this student the easiest way for her to retrieve her resources from her personal uni web page is to open them in iBooks, this saves a whole lot of moving files around. I am providing AccessiblePDF files at the moment as these can be opened with one mouse click to open and then another to open in iBooks..
‘Tonight I have found quite a deliberate flaw! I thought having zoom with voice over (both in accessibility) would be the way to go with the iPad. However, the iPad can only have one or the other. The reason given for this perplexing situation is that they have conflicting commands! Glory be! It seems that we can’t have larger print and voice over at the same time on an iPad!’

Im not an iPad developer (TEAM ANDROID!!!) but Im sure there is someone out there who can knows of a solution to this that I could forward on??.

This rant was posted in Accessibility, Apple, Web Development on by .