Web Accessibility, in the context of the AODA

Mon Feb 21 23:30:15 2011 EST (-0500 GMT)

The draft of the AODA Integrated Accessibility Standards is currently posted on the Ministry of Community and Social Services web site. The section on “Accessible websites and web content” subsection 4 was what I was most interested in. There were only minor changes from what was in the last draft that I saw, but the changes were significant.

Update: Friday April 1, 2011

Looks like the link is dead, but Google still has a copy: webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:W2_8OUCWcYAJ:www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/publications/accessibility/standards_iar/part2_iar.aspx

Running key phrases through the Ministry’s search tool yields some really interesting results. Here is an example search.

What is the same is that it references the WWW Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/

The draft AODA Integrated Accessibility Standards document applies to Ontario public web sites on the internet and in intranets (university LMS’ would be in either definition) and outlines targets for NEW content to be WCAG Level A accessible and then level AA and eventually ALL content to being Level AA.

The change is that there will be exceptions for online audio and video content. That is, content that would require Captions (Live) and Audio Descriptions (Pre-recorded) as outlined in the WCAG2 specification here www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/#media-equiv

The WCAG2’s Captions (Live) and Audio Descriptions (Pre-recorded) requirements are unlike other content formatting previsions in the WCAG2 in that these are not items that content authors can simply modify how they format their content to achieve this high standard of accessibility. The Captions (Live) and Audio Descriptions (Pre-recorded) require many orders of magnitude more hours of labour to comply with than is often needed to produce the original artifact. To quote Stuart Robertson, webmaster, UofGuelph.ca and contributor to alistapart.com at the 2009 Aiming for Accessibility conference at Guelph University “[the] Transcription requirement represent a serious disincentive to publish audio/video content to the web”.

Those who host audio and video on the web need to figure out how to provided captions and descriptive audio to content. I want this to be a positive process of adding value to audio and video content, not a chilling effect preventing it.

After making my stand on what I think is reasonable for those creating content for the web I figure that my next steps should be to share my own informal check-list for posting and reviewing content for the web. My next post will be What to Look for when mattclare.ca/blog/2011/02/21/what-to-look-for-when-trying-to-author-accessible-content-my-list/ Trying to Author Accessible Content: My List.

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