Change is not always for the better.
American Express ran into accessibility issues when they changed from using HTML to PDF
for their online credit card statements. It turns out that the data tables they previously used
to present the statements were accessible, but the new PDF version was not. I suspect this will be
corrected again shortly, in part because of the potential for a lawsuit.
To avoid the same problems yourself, you can reference
Adobe's Creating Accessible PDF files guide
(in PDF format, of course!) or
WebAIM's series of PDF accessibility articles.
article describes how the visually impaired use screen readers
to use software and surf the Web. It even includes a brief Flash video of a screen reader reading
a Web page; (ironically, it's not very accessible).
One important highlight is a survey of 100 higher-education Web sites by
WebAIM that found that compliance with Section 508
went from 23% on the home page to 3% on pages one link off the home page to less than 1%
two links into the site. Ouch! I know it can be more of a challenge to keep in compliance
pages that change often or are updated by different editors, but you should at least keep the
high-traffic pages in compliance. That would likely include many pages that are one link from
the home page and some that are farther away.
I have lots of catching up to do now that I'm getting settled in Portland, OR and have Internet access again.
First, I must continue my trend on reporting about Web accessibility abroad. A recent article states that
about 70% of Malaysian Web sites are inaccessible to the blind.
This is out of approximately 100,000 sites. The causes are the usual suspects...a lack of ALT tags (descriptions for images), poorly named links,
and the incorrect use of or lack of headings. Even sadder, it appears that
an accessibility bill that recently passed in Malaysia
is supposed to protect the disabled, but it has no punitive language. In other words, nothing will happen if people ignore it.
Additional updates will follow as I catch up with news, email, looking for work, and the rest of my life. Please drop me a line if you know any job opportunities
based near Portland (or telecommute) for usability, accessibility, information architecture, business analyst work, or some combination thereof:
<anitra at anitrapavka dot com>