3 October 2000
Who are we?
JSC produces web-enabled designs and applications for the government, retail and health sectors.
This means that work increasingly raises:
Multi-technology channel interface requirements.
The need to run channels from common content.
Interleaved sites where access might be inconsistent and functional behaviour different.
Transactional needs with some sites having to be secure.
A requirement for wide community use.
JSC specialises in public-facing systems where many users are expected to not have Internet experience.
Who needs access to what?
Simple, brief language
All; especially deaf, poor readers, those with poor sight, etc.
Simple, unassuming navigation
Inexperienced users, those who've never seen or used the web.
Many community groups have older technology, corporates have standards that may not be updated immediately - and then there's the new phones!
Websites and access
Crudely, web-enabled solutions can be grouped:
Simple information sites
Access easily achieved by meaningful ALT tags.
Access fits the guidelines provided there is sensitivity to any forms or browse loops on the return.
Access complex, especially for government as lots of information and links to inconsistent sites.
Uncharted group for access and likely to need audio within the content plus influence with the tools.
Perhaps guidelines need to address the different groups of sites that now exist?
What sectors are different?
A need to sift through masses of information
Little knowledge of how to consumerise content
The need for use of complex forms
A need to organise content in groups like "life events"
Why is access screwed up by government sites?
Brief text is critical
Orientation is complex and users not experienced
Numerous sites are linked or traversed in models where browsers must read in the right order
It is easy to confuse
Sites with complex navigation models often leave the user ‘lost in web-space’.
Sites must provide comprehensive context information, difficult without repeating cues endlessly...
Portals often present lots of information [MSN Example]
This is great for visual users who can parallel-process the input for cues, but non-visual browsers must present the information in serial.
Content from elsewhere can ruin navigation:
Breaking the rules
Using nested tables breaks a WAI checkpoint.
However, in some circumstances this can increase accessibility.
In this example, the row-first scan employed by the speech browser can be diverted using a nested table.
Navigation models are getting more complex.
A digital divide.
Designers assume knowledge of the internet (and their site!)
WAI Techniques are atomic and can lead to unusable sites.
Content is too long, too complex and multiple access channels are badly managed.
Real users need more involvement.
Guidelines are used as standards!
What is needed
A general training module is proposed.
Some groups are at a disadvantage not purely through access, but also because they don't understand terminology and haven't seen what they are navigating.
Navigation needs a semantic framework.
Better exchange of access concepts is needed.
Multi-channel needs demand more complex orientation requirements; not just prescriptive guidelines that are mistakenly taken to be standards. Atomic techniques could be expanded into good practice resource.
Techniques for content management should be promoted to avoid second class web citizenship.
Guidelines should emphasise the need for appropriate content.
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