Are You Accessible...and Do You Care?
Making your website Section 508 compliant is good business.
Being "accessible" can imply any number of things: email, cell phones, IM, a Blackberry perhaps. This is what many of us think when we hear the term. Some of us may also recognize the term when used to describe certain modifications to buildings that make them physically accessibility—wheelchair ramps, elevators, bathroom stalls, etc.
Did you know that just like a building, your website can be made accessible? There are a number of factors that prevent users who are typically visually impaired, are color blind, and/or require the ability to view sites with larger text. There are devices, called readers, for the blind that actually read the content on websites and allow them to navigate, purchase goods, and collaborate with others.
Over the past few years, many public firms have come under fire for not having accessible content on their sites—among them, Southwest Airlines, AOL, Ramada, B&N, Priceline.com, and more recently, Target. What does this mean for the average company? Well, many do not see it as a relevant issue. Smart companies however do, and for many good reasons. Let’s start at the beginning.
What is it?
Accessibility legislation often referred to as Section 508, was enacted in the 1998 Workforce Reinvestment Act to provide accessible content to people with disabilities. It is important to understand that we are talking about a fairly significant portion of the public. Some statistics project that approximately 20% of all online users have some type of disability that a compliant site would help. For example, 1 in 10 men are color blind. Our aging population may have difficulties reading sites that do not allow type to be resized, and so on.
Section 508 sites provide options for all types of users to access the information they are looking for and provide opportunities to enhance the usability and popularity of a website
Take a look at some of the videos on this site of people using assistive technologies to understand what it is and why accessibility is so important. What is especially notable about these videos is that they don’t just show people who are visually impaired, but people with other disabilities as well.
Why is it a good thing to do?
It does require a higher level of effort. However, there are several key reasons why it is more beneficial. Some of them include:
Clear labeling and transcripts of images, video, and audio enhances the usability of your site. It also enhances Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Google and other search engines.
You will increase the number of visitors and market of those who can view content and potentially buy your services and/or products.
You will increase the usability of your site. Accessible sites are typically easier to navigate, are logical, and provide clear labeling and structure compared to non-accessible sites.
You could be non-compliant with some laws (especially if you provide information to government-based or government funded sources).
It addresses the aging population.
It enhances corporate image and brand.
It’s the right thing to do!
So, everybody should care. It’s good practice and good business.
Where do you go from here?
There are many resources related to Section 508 compliance. I'll be giving a Webinar on this topic in January, so please view details and register if you're interested. We'll post an online resource guide for up-to-date information about testing your site for Section 508 compliance, Tutorials, Tools, and other resources.
— Stephen Bouikidis, Executive Vice President, NetReach email@example.com
Tip Sheet: Optimizing Photos & Images
Learn about photo measurement and file size, why and how to properly prepare photos and imagery for use on the web.
cmScribe enables you to upload photos and imagery and place them into your web page using a WYSIWYG editor. The editor also allows you to resize those big photos to fit nicely into your web page. However, we don’t recommend this kind of “post-processing” because it retains the original big photo and requires the web server to perform calculations to resize the photo by a scaling percentage on the fly every time the webpage is called up. This uses computer memory and makes for longer and slower download times for your webpage. We recommend that you prepare your photos by “optimizing” to the correct size before you upload them and place them on your webpage.
How photos are measured.
Digital photos are measured in units called pixels (short for picture element, using the common abbreviation "pix" for "picture"). Resolution refers to the number of pixels in an image. Resolution is identified by the width times the height (for example: 1024 x 768 pixels is an image that measures 1024 pixels wide by 768 pixels high). Computer screen resolution is 72 pixels per inch, while print materials require a minimum of 200 pixels per inch (300 ppi for commercially printed materials). You can divide by the screen or print resolution to get the photo’s physical size for the particular medium, as shown below:
Screen ÷ 72 ppi
Print ÷ 200 ppi
1024 x 768
14.22 x 10.67
5.12 x 3.79
The computer screen you are looking at is set at a particular resolution as well. The larger the screen, the larger you likely have your screen resolution set. If you have a 17" monitor, likely you have it set at 800 x 600 pixels. If you have a 19" screen, it is likely set at 1024 x 768. You can change the settings but these are optimum for those screen sizes. So, that same 1024 x 768 image would be too large for the 17” and just fit into the 19” monitor. Regardless, the photos that come from your digital camera will generally be REALLY large on your computer screen (that’s so they have plenty of resolution built-in to allow for a sharp looking photo print).
How to find Photo Properties.
On the web (both Windows PC and Mac):
Place your mouse cursor over the photo >> right click: a menu opens over the photo >> select Properties. A pop-up window opens and gives you the Width, Height, and Size of the file. Width and Height are in pixels (abbreviated px) and give you the physical dimensions of the photo; the Size of file gives you the amount of space in megabytes or kilobytes that the file takes up on a computer’s hard drive.
On your computer, using a Windows PC: >
You can use the same procedure as above to find Properties, the annoying thing is, Properties now only gives you the file size, not its physical dimensions! Here’s a work around: open your Paint program (under your Start menu in the Programs >>Accessories folder) and drag and drop the image into the blank image area. In the top menu select Image >> Attributes. You’ll see the dimensions noted there.
On your computer, using a MAC:
Place your mouse cursor over the photo >> right click: a menu opens over the photo >> select Get Info. A pop-up window opens and gives you more than you’d ever want to know. Toggle the More Info arrow open to get the image’s dimensions in pixels.
Optimizing your photos for the web.
At Netreach, we use high-end image editing software like Adobe® Photoshop® or Fireworks® to prep photos and images. While these programs are great, they may be more complicated and more expensive than what you actually need for the task.
Here’s a nifty, FREE online resource that you can use to resize your photos and optimize them for the web. Check it out: http://www.webresizer.com/.
NetReach’s Stephen Bouikidis on expert panel at CM Pros Fall Summit
Stephen Bouikidis, Executive VP, NetReach has been invited to participate in a panel discussion among leaders of Web Content Management (WCM) software and service providers entitled “Industry Perspectives: Web Content Management Trends," at the CM Pros Fall 2007 Summit on Content Management, November 26th in Boston, MA. The goal of the panel discussion is to provide the audience of content management professionals insight and advice that will help them perform their jobs better and address the most pressing issues associated with the practice of managing web content. Moderator, Mary Laplante, VP of Marketing for the Gilbane Group, an analyst and consulting firm that provides education, advice, and market expertise in content management technologies, will frame the session in terms of the three elements that comprise a business solution: people, processes, and technology. The six-member panel will explore real-world issues in a fast-paced, interactive forum that encourages audience participation. The conference is held in conjunction with the 4th Annual Gilbane Conference on Content Technologies, which follows it November 27-29.
» Read more
Case Study: Historic Christ Church and Burial Ground in Philadelphia, PA
Christ Church and Burial Ground, located in the Old City section of Philadelphia, is a National Historic Landmark site with a rich 312-year history. Known as "The Nation's Church" because of the famous Revolution-era leaders who worshiped there, Christ Church was founded in 1695. The original church structure was a small brick and wooden configuration that fit into its Quaker-dominated surroundings in the late 1600s. The current church was started in 1727, and has long been considered one of the finest Georgian structures in America. The steeple, financed by a lottery organized by Benjamin Franklin, was the tallest structure in the colonies for 56 years. This beautiful building continues to support an active, modern day Episcopal parish and congregation including a full worship schedule with related services and activities. Neighborhood House, also known as the Christ Church Annex, is another historic building in the complex that houses offices and provides meeting spaces for community groups as well as serving as a cultural venue. These multiple and diverse communities created challenges to the design of the site.
» Learn how NetReach and cmScribe helped Christ Church communicate it's unique living history.
What's New in 5.2.3?
Users of the current version of cmScribe will notice a slicker interface we’ve dubbed “cm silver.” Most noticeably, from a user’s perspective, is the integration of a new WYSIWYG editor and the cleaner look of the page template view when you perform a “Manage This Page.”
The cm silver version of the software is a major behind-the-scenes overhaul and represents an exciting way forward. Read more about it, see screen grabs, and see it in action by clicking the link below.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
1:00 to 2:00pm
Section 508 Compliance
Learn about tools and techniques to bring your web presence into compliance with the Federally mandated standards put in place for Section 508, an amendment to the Workforce Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The law requires that electronic and information technology that is developed or purchased by the Federal Government is accessible by people with disabilities.
» Learn More & Register