UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

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Archive for Nov 17th, 2014

Including Your Missing 20% By Embedding Web and Mobile Accessibility

Posted by Brian Kelly on 17 Nov 2014

Launch of a Book on Web and Mobile Accessibility

Including your missing 20% by embedding web and mobile accessibilityLast week, on Monday 10 November 2014, Professor Jonathan Hassell launched his highly anticipated book entitled “Including Your Missing 20% By Embedding Web and Mobile Accessibility“. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend the launch event, but I used Storify to capture the buzz surrounding the launch event. As described in the book summary on Amazon:

Almost 20% of the world’s population have some form of disability or impairment that impacts their use of digital products. Yet Digital Accessibility is often a misunderstood concept. It isn’t just a way of organisations protecting themselves from being sued by coding their websites according to a standards tick-list so they work with screen-readers. It’s about working to ensure your website, intranet, widget, workplace application, mobile site, mobile app, or IPTV app is able to be used by as many people in its target audiences as possible. It’s about recognising that no product is ever going to be usable to all users, and finding a reasonable, justifiable way of balancing the resource costs of inclusion against the benefits. And it’s about letting your users know when you’ve not been able to fully support their needs. Fundamentally, it’s about understanding the challenges of inclusion, and solving them in creative ways, to gain a bigger audience so your product is more successful. In this book Professor Jonathan Hassell, award-winning international thought-leader in digital inclusion and lead-author of the BS 8878 British Standard on Web Accessibility, will take you on a journey to transform your organisation to achieve the consistent creation of web products that are usable and accessible to all your customers, at the most efficient cost.

I have to declare an interest in this book and the author. I met Jonathan several years ago and his work which led to the development of BS 8878, the BSI’s Web Accessibility Code of Practice, was carried out in parallel to the papers on web accessibility written by myself, David Sloan, Sarah Lewthwaite and several other web accessibility researchers and practitioners. One of our papers from 2007, “Accessibility 2.0: People, Policies and Processes“, reflects the approaches which were taken in BS 8878, which, on the www.access8878.co.uk web site, explains that (emphasis added):

BS 8878 is not a declaration that the finished web product has met a standard. It’s a statement that the process of developing the product has followed a standard where educated decisions about accessibility have been made. Through this process web managers and developers will gain a deeper and broader understanding of web access issues that will bring both short-term and long-term benefits to the community as a whole.

This focus on following a set of processes is helping to move institutional practices on from use of the WAI model, in which the emphasis has tended to be on ensuring that Web resources conform with WCAG guidelines. For me the next step should be exploring how the higher education sector can make use of BS 8878 in enhancing the accessibility of online teaching and learning and research services.  If you’ve an interest in this area feel free to get in touch. If you’d like to know more about the book visit the Amazon or BSI web site.


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