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Accessible Websites

Net Ingenuity competed in the 2012 AIR Rally (www.knowbility.org/v/open-air). Our team, “EZXS-ibility,” WON Third Place–in the ADVANCED category, which means we’ll be moving on to compete in the International AIR competition. Awards will be announced at SXSW Interactive Festival, on March 11. The Accessibility Internet Rally is a web design competition that increases awareness of the tools and techniques that make the Internet accessible to everyone – including people with disabilities.

Our site for the competition, hashemhouse.knowbility.org, is built in WordPress. Since the site for the competition was frozen from development after the competition closed, it is hidden from users with “maintenance mode.” A mirror site was built to provide a live Web presence for the synagogue. See HashemsHouse.org.  To test the accessibility of the site, two teammates and I (each in in our own home offices around Austin) tested our site with a woman who has been blind since birth. Without buying premium software, we got her to remotely share her screen with us (one on one via Skype and then one to many with FreeScreenSharing.com) and we watched as she listened to a voice reader explore our site at speeds faster than we could comprehend. She translated what she heard and we noted when she could find all the content and when she had difficulty navigating controls for video, audio and forms. None of us had ever done anything like that and we surprised ourselves with how well it went and how much we learned.

Karen Kreps and Carey Falk show their AIR competition regional award for Third Place in the Advanced Category.

There’s exciting news in the field of making websites fully accessible to people with disabilities. At the October Austin WP Meetup, we heard,

WAI-ARIA, the Accessible Rich Internet Applications Suite, defines a way to make Web content and Web applications more accessible to people with disabilities. It especially helps with dynamic content and advanced user interface controls developed with Ajax, HTML, JavaScript, and related technologies.

Learn more on Knowbility, http://stage.knowbility.org/moodle/.