Monday, December 10, 2007

Flawed accessibility tool accessED from

At the Web Adaptability for Inclusion Conference 2007 (OZeWAI 2007) last week I picked up a pamphlet about accessED, a free accessibility tool from The tool installed easily as a Firefox plugin, but has a very confusing interface. When I went to report this via the provided feedback facility and discussion group, I found neither worked. Added to the way Edna excluded disabled and low bandwidth users from its recent birthday celebrations, it makes me wonder if the new federal government should invest its education funding elsewhere.
... development of the Accessibility Panel has focussed on making testing for accessibility a more welcoming process by;
  • Enabling users to test for accessibility on a protected web page.
  • Clear and easy to understand descriptions of each checkpoint.
  • Offering a simple step by step process for testing accessibility. ...
From: The Accessibility Panel (AccessED) now available!, Education.Au Ltd, 2007
Downloading the panel was quick and easy. When activated a panel appears next to the web page listing accessibility tests. A magnifying glass symbol is displayed next to each test. If the text fails, the magnifying glass changes to a cross. Clicking on the cross or magnifying glass will display a short text description. A check box allows the relevant areas to be highlighted on the web page.

Some problems with this:
  • Magnifying glasses: When I first ran a test nothing seemed to happen. It took me some time to notice that some magnifying glasses had turned into red crosses. While the meaning of a cross is reasonably clear ("test failed"), the logical opposite of this would be a green tick, not an amber colored magnifying glass.
  • Where are the errors: By default no problem errors are highlighted on the web page. This might be better than the default option in many tools, where all errors are highlighted. On a poorly designed wed page that can result in a hopeless jumble of lines. But it would be useful if something was highlighted to show that the tool actually worked.
To report my concerns I attempted to first post to the Accessibility Panel discussion forum. This required registration, so I registered (edna having deleted my previous registration), but with the new registration the result was "CAS Authentication failed!".

Attempting to use the "Feedback" resulted in an invitation to offer thoughts followed by the error message "You've already completed this activity".

Some weeks ago I was invited to submit some thoughts on the early days of EdNa. But when I went to the relevant web page I found the invitation only applied to those who could use Web 2.0 high bandwidth applications and audio. EdNa seemed to think those using text based interfaces, because they had limited bandwidth or had a disability, were no longer worth hearing from. This was disappointing. This was around the time one of the members of the new federal government asked me about computers in schools. One of the recommendations I made was for increased funding for EdNa. Now I am wondering if that would be the best use of the money.

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