NCDAE Accessibility Newsletter - April 2006

In this Edition:

This Month's Feature

Let the Buyer Be Aware

Education entities are making the important move to create policies that cover accessible technologies in general, and Web accessibility in particular. However, very few of these policies explicitly include procedures for the procurement of accessible goods and services. This is vital for any group that wants to adhere to their policy and avoid expensive accommodation if newly purchased materials pose barriers to access for persons with disabilities. A brilliant aspect of the Section 508 regulation is that procurement is tied to the overall federal strategy to transform, over time, into an environment supporting accessibility. This article discusses the importance of procurement language in policies to encourage accessibility. It also provides sample language that others can use in their own policies and recommends links to those who have already included accessibility requirements. In this age of technology procurement, let the buyer be aware!

Read the entire article: http://ncdae.org/policy/procurement.php

Tips and Tools

Adobe Acrobat & PDF

After HTML, PDF (Portable Document Format) files are probably the most common document files on the Web. PDF is usually used when a file needs to appear or print a certain way regardless of the browser or technology.

PDF files can be made accessible to people with disabilities, although usually with more difficulty than with HTML. A key part of this process involves creating tags that make a document more accessible to screen reader users.

NCDAE has created a fact sheet that is designed to help you understand the accessibility features and challenges of PDF. It addresses how to increase the native accessibility of a PDF file as well as alternatives to PDF. We hope that you will not only read this fact sheet, but add your comments so we can continually expand this resource.

PDF Fact Sheet: http://ncdae.org/tools/factsheets/pdf.php

Webcast

Mobile Education and Access for Students with Disabilities
April 26, 2006

As technologies become smaller, sleeker and easier to carry can they be developed and used so that no child is left behind?

That is the question we will address during NCDAE's April 26, 2006 webcast entitled, "Mobile Education and Access for Students with Disabilities." Join us at 1 PM Mountain Time (3 PM EDT) for a discussion of technologies, practices and standards related to this increasingly popular education delivery method. Visit our website for more information: http://ncdae.org/webcasts/

Factoid

The PEW Internet and American Life Project report "Internet as School" highlights a survey of 1,100 parent-child pairs and their responses to internet in the schools. According to this report:

The most recent Pew Internet Project survey finds that 87% of all youth between the ages of 12 and 17 use the internet. That translates into about 21 million people. Of those 21 million online teens, 78% (or about 16 million students) say they use the internet at school. Put another way, this means that 68% of all teenagers have used the internet at school.

This represents growth of roughly 45% over the past four years from about 11 million teens who used the internet in schools in late 2000. In the Pew Internet Project survey in late 2000, we found that 73% of those ages 12 to 17 used the internet and that 47% of those in that age cohort used the internet at school.

For a growing portion of the online teen population, schools have become an important venue for internet use for a significant number of teens. About one in five online teens (18%) who use the internet from multiple locations list school as the location where they go online most often. This figure is up from 11% in December 2000.

As the number of students for whom the internet is an integral part of the education process continues to grow, it is essential to ensure that students with disabilities are not excluded due to inaccessible websites.

To read the full report, visit: http://www.pewinternet.org/PPF/r/163/report_display.asp

Affiliate Corner

Affiliate Highlight - Richard Allegra

After working in direct service in the field of disability and higher education since the mid-1980's, I took a position with AHEAD (Association on Higher Education and Disability) about three years ago. I currently work as an Associate Executive Director with primary responsibility for AHEAD's Education and Information programs.

I received a Master's degree in Rehabilitation Counseling, with an emphasis in Deafness, from San Francisco State University in 1983 and worked in several independent living skills programs with foreign-born and multiply-disabled deaf adults, and subsequently took Disability Service positions at the University of Minnesota and the University of Illinois at Chicago. From 2000-2002 I served on the Board of Directors of AHEAD and in 2003 was the Program Chair for AHEAD's annual conference in Miami Beach.

AHEAD is wrapping up a busy academic year of regional workshops, audioconferences and an online course on universal design. The development of a disability service certification program is well underway as well.  We're gearing up for our annual conference in San Diego this July.  Topics represent the gamut of disability and education issues, including distance education and online accessibility. We look forward to seeing many NCDAE affiliates there. For information visit: http://www.ahead.org

In the News…

Defining Accessibility

One of the problems with developing truly accessible websites lies with broad range of definitions and expectations inherent to accessibility. For some, accessibility is more about availability and access to computers and the internet than about programming and development decisions, and for many more, accessibility begins and ends with visual disabilities. However, there is more to accessibility than just standards compliance or the ability of JAWS to read your pages. In some cases, what makes a site more accessible to one group can make access more challenging for another, and new and evolving technologies make it even harder to prescribe or standardize accessibility. A recent thread on the WebAIM (Web Accessibility in Mind) discussion forum highlights the diversity and difficulty involved in summing up one little word:

Read the WebAIM discussion: http://www.webaim.org/discussion/mail_thread.php?thread=2818

Some related articles: