1. The standards such as 508 and WCAG – are these only applicable to Desktop based web applications or to Mobile devices as well? If not, is there a similar standard for Mobile Devices or a chance this standard may be adopted for Smart Devices?
a. As discussed in the presentation, the space of mobile accessibility is just taking shape. The industry acknowledges the need for it, but lacks maturity in implementing it – whether it be standards, processes or tools. While these shape up, it would be good idea for us as engineers to extend what we do for accessibility today to the world of mobile computing too. This will at least give us the base coverage and edge, to start with.
2. You talked about some assistive tools available for Accessibility Testing. As mentioned in your slide, over a billion people are impacted. There may be several such tools already being used by differently abled people for their daily needs. Does testing with the tools you listed assure that the Application will work well with other tools that may be used around the globe?
a. Fair question. As in any other area, you options to test are endless. The tools can also turn out to be a huge set to work with. Choosing core tools in the screen reader, magnifier, hearing aid, joystick categories give you a fair representation of how your application will work for the disabled. That should give you the required confidence and understanding of how it would work on other tools that you have not tested for since most of their functionality is often in line with these core tools. However it is a good idea to periodically revisit to see if you want to include any new tools to your test kit.
3. You talked about a handy checklist for testers – including non accessibility testers. What is the value of such an effort especially when you already have a core accessibility team which also includes end users.
a. Firstly, it always helps to have people not directly working on a certain task to periodically try it out. A fresh mind brings in fresh perspective to the mix. Secondly, it promotes the right awareness and appreciation for an initiative such as accessibility where they are encouraged to think holistically about the product’s acceptance in the market place rather than thinking in silos. So, whether or not the list results in any accessibility issues being reported, the awareness itself is a huge value add it brings
4. Like the WCAG guidelines for content on the web, I would like to know if
there are any standards that corporates might have to follow while
developing their internal tools that employees use on a regular basis?
I am referring to the tools that may be used by employees for various basic
functions like, applying for leave, accessing salary statements, applying
for re-imbursements etc.
Further extending the scope of this question, are there any
standards/guidelines that any application developer has to comply to ensure
the tool/application is accessible?
a. Well, there is no foolproof answer to your question as of today. Per http://www.w3.org/WAI/bcase/pol, “In some countries, organizations’ intranets and internal applications are covered by laws requiring accessibility accommodation in the workplace for people with disabilities or by age discrimination legislation with respect to older employees”.
In general it is a good practice to make the internal applications as well, accessibility compliant – although there may not be global mandates governing this as of today and you may not have a user base that uses assistive technologies, it is a good practice to build for accessibility upfront – doing so later is quite expensive. So, it will be good to take into account the accessibility attributes and mandates that we had discussed in the webinar in line with Sec 508 and consider them for implementation for your internal applications too
5. What are the web accessibility business benefits in India?
a. India being the second most populous country world wide, the disabled numbers in India are at a significant number of 2.68 crores as of 2011. This is a large user base that need to be accommodated in applications and products that are being built. The benefits of web accessibility in India besides inclusion are: better application positioning in the global marketplace, better employment opportunities for the disabled be it as end users, ongoing testers etc., a consistent adoption for accessibility country wide. While this is not an exhaustive set, these are significant benefits that we need to make note of.
6. % of sites that pass accessibility criteria
a. This is a very difficult question to answer because data around this is not fully tracked and collected as of today. Also, the web is a very dynamic landscape. Data collected around web accessibility compliance may hold good today but very soon may become outdated as they have newer versions to the sites coming out. So, for this data to be accurate, mandates needs to be strictly enforced so organizations make it a part of their compliances checks to submit their compliance status as opposed to a “nice to have” implementation
7. Any accessibility testing that should be done for social media
a. Well, social media is also to be looked at as a web platform – a web application, for which all applicable criteria as defined by the mandates will have to be followed. If at all any, it is even more important for social media to be accessibility compliant as they have a lot more user base including the dis-abled compared to other web applications. Like our visually challenged users mentioned in the webinar, they use apps such as Facebook, Watsapp on a regular basis to stay connected with their friends and family. So, accessibility compliance for social media is a very important area to address – this is important even for other web applications that need to be tested for their inter-operability with social platforms.