Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Hearing Accessibility.

I have mentioned, in the past, that I follow a list which is predominantly game designers who care about accessibility issue.  There is frequently one post over the course of a week, but some are technical and others relate to specific events of the Game Accessibility SIG for the International Game Developers Association. 

Accessibility for online gamers can be challenging if the designers don't think about accessibility issues at all.  This video by Mark Brown is interesting because he illustrates the good and the problems, and has suggestions.  This video focuses on hearing accessibility, and he promises to produce more on other disability issues.

I found it helpful to get a better understanding of some of the issues people with hearing disabilities face.   It runs a bit over 12 minutes. 

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

What's been going on?

Yes, it has been a while since my last post.  Here in South Texas, we went through a hurricane and I had a visit to the hospital for some emergency back surgery. There were conferences ( ITEST PI & Evaluator Summit, SxSW.edu, TxDLA) along the way.  I've just returned from a 5-week visit with the New Zealand grandkids.  So, now back to blogging.  This will be an attempt to catch up.


There' a requirement for all Texas state agencies and institutions of higher education to appoint an EIRAC  (Electronic Information Resources Accessibility Coordinator).  The state does not specify the position requirements but does require the Department of Information Resources be notified when the position is vacant or filed.  The Department of Information Resources does post examples of roles and responsibilities for EIRACs.

Dudley v Miami

I know I've talked about this before; the ruling and the Consent Decree University of Miami (Ohio) signed with the Department of Justice in settling this compliant.  There's some 40+ pages of what DoJ expected to be done at the institution level.  I mention it here because it's a nice guide for what might be expected from an EIRAC.


In case you've missed this case; Southern grocery chain Winn-Dixie's website was the subject of a complaint from a blind man.  Rather than settling out of court, they opted for a trial.  They lost.  
Experts believe it to be the first trial regarding a website’s accessibility under the ADA. Such lawsuits have become popular in recent years as the Department of Justice has delayed formal regulations.
Of course, there's an appeal, and we'll need to wait on that for a final decision, but this is truly the first case-law on the issue of website accessibility.  All the other organizations opted not to fight and entered consent decrees (like U of Miami).

How much does it cost to make a website accessible?  In the Winn-Dixie case:

The company has set aside $250,000 to update the site, though testimony during the trial indicated it will not cost nearly that much.
I love this because of an earlier post Will It Take Thousands of Dollars to Make Your Website Accessible?


I came across this resolution of a complaint on the OCR website.  

Specifically, the complaint alleged that certain of the District’s web pages are not accessible to students and adults with disabilities, including vision impairments. 

Since the district is my local district I was of course, interested.  I had not seen coverage of this by the local media, and checking with them, indicated they did not know.  I also checked with the principal of one of the district schools who was also unaware of the complaint.  

Unfortunately, the website only held the one document, and so I had to go to OCR with a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request.  It took about a month but did result in 15 pages of information.

I was not impressed with the OCR letter of finding or the school district response.  And at the time I put in the FOIA request the WAVE Accessibility Tool still reported more than a handful of errors on the district's main webpage.  There has been some action since.  Now there's only a single Empty Link reported.

The Complainant used website accessibility checkers Page 3 – Resolution Letter to Recipient, OCR Ref. 06-17-1280 (PowerMapper and WAVE) and reported to OCR that the District’s web pages identified above have accessibility issues for individuals with disabilities. She then provided OCR with a list of errors copied and pasted from the website accessibility checker that she used. 
I use WAVE.  It would appear to be that OCR accepts that as a valid evaluation tool.  The Resolution Agreement required the school district to hire an auditor to review the district website and help bring it into compliance.  The district selected SiteImporve out of Minneapolis. Their website main page has no errors. (of course, I had to check.) But the video about services had open captioning for some, but not all of the audio track.  

OCR Case Processing Manual Revised

Though the CCISD complaint happened before the revised OCR Case Processing Manual was released this March, it appears that the Dallas OCR office might have followed the new guidance.  They stuck close to the complainant's issues, and didn't look beyond that.  The district does not appear to clearly identify a Section 504 or ADA Coordinator, nor do they do the annual notification or have a compliant grievance process.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Discovery at TxDLA

TxDLA held its annual conference in Galveston the last week in March. We started another round of the Online Certificate Program with a pre-conference session.  There were almost a dozen sessions during the conference that touched on accessibility issues, including mine.  (slides below)

Most of the sessions on accessibility were very good.  "Most" means that there was one that didn't meet my standards, and where they presented misinformation, which I was forced to correct.  It's always hard to know what information, or misinformation, will be presented when one is reviewing conference session proposals.

On the topic of misinformation, I was told by one university administrator that the institutional lawyer had taken the position, and told the administration, there was no reason to make courses accessible unless and until a student with a disability, approved by the Disability Services Office, was present in a course.   That might be accurate for a face-to-face course without any digital content (that would mean without a digital syllabus, digital resources, and especially links to websites that students are expected to explore as out-of-class activities).

Unfortunately I'm not surprised by the guidance offered by the institution's lawyer.   Unless an institution's lawyer is current on disability issues, especially the recent online consent decrees and findings by DoJ and OCR, there is a good chance they'll provide inaccurate guidance.