Tools for Accessibility
Three tools have been used to test the level of accessibility of the
NJ State portal. The three tools, Bobby, A-Prompt, and the 508 Accessibility
Suite for Dreamweaver all reported similar results.
The Bobby report presents an accessibility evaluation grouped by three
priority levels defined by the Web Access Initiative. Bobby is an automated
evaluation tool and is able highlight possible problems that must be
checked. In order for a site to be Bobby certified a page must pass
all of the Priority 1 accessibility checkpoints established by the WAI.
To use Bobby, the author types in the URL of the page that needs to
be checked. Once the evaluation is complete, a report is generated indicating
the accessibility issue and the line numbers it can be found on.
The A-Prompt (Accessibility Prompt) Toolkit is a utility for checking
and repairing HTML. A-Prompt allows the author to select a file for
validation and repair. The tool can be customized to check for different
conformance levels, based on the Web Access Initiative guidelines. If
an accessibility problem is detected, A-Prompt displays the necessary
dialogs and guides for the user to fix the problem. When all potential
problems have been resolved, the repaired HTML code is inserted into
the document and the author can save the changes. After being checked
and repaired by A-Prompt the page will be given a WAI Conformance ranking.
508 Accessibility Suite for Dreamweaver
This Dreamweaver evaluation tool allows web pages to be checked for
accessibility. The extension covers Section 508 and level 1 W3C guidelines
and a report can be run on one page, a complete web site, selected section,
or any folder. The extension allows the author to collect answers to
manual tests and includes content that explains how to perform tests,
why the problems found could be accessibility issues, and explains with
examples how the problem can be fixed.
Testing of NJ State Portal with JAWS
JAWS (Job Access with Speech), a screen-reading assistive technology,
allows blind or visually impaired users to access their computer and
the Internet by use of keyboard strokes and shortcuts. While testing
the NJ State portal for accessibility, JAWS had few problems reading
the content of the page. Overall, the State portal is a very accessible
site, but there are a few minor issues. Issues such as missing ALT tags
were the most common accessibility issue. Spacer images and bullet images
must have ALT tags under Section 508 guidelines. ALT tags beginning
with "link to" should not be used because JAWS, when reading
the screen and finding a link, announces to the user that it found a
link. For example, if there is an ALT tag of "Link to OIT,"
JAWS will find the link and read it as "Link Link to OIT."
Special characters used for aesthetic effect as in Em@ll NJ are not
readable in screen-reading software. The image for Em@ll NJ must have
an ALT tag that JAWS can read, such as "Emall NJ."
Accessibility Issues with NJ State Portal
- ALT Tags missing from images
A description should explain the content of the image and its role
in the document so that users without graphics-enabled browsers or blind/visually
impaired users can still effectively navigate the page.
- Spacer images don't have textual descriptions
Spacer images should include an empty ALT string (ALT="")
or a blank one (ALT=" ") so that non-graphical and speech-based
browsers skip these images.
- No document description is provided within the META tags
The META tag provides a brief description of the document when the
search engine presents the result list of a query. Providing a good
description will help users deciding whether to view this document.
- The page contains links whose color is different than the conventional
one (#0000FF, blue)
Many users rely on the fact that new links are #0000FF, blue. Users
of the page will not be able to rely on their previous experience, and
may risk getting lost while visiting the site.