VPAT 2.0 for Section 508, WCAG 2.0 and En301 549

Voluntary Product Accessibility Template 2.0 ® (VPAT 2.0 ®) is updated by Information Technology Industry Council ITICExternal Website. The purpose of the VPAT is to assist customers and buyers in making preliminary assessments regarding the availability of commercial “Electronic and Information Technology,” also referred to as “Information and Communication Technology” (ICT) products and services with features that support accessibility.

With the recent Section 508 refresh, it has become essential to have a The latest VPAT. can be downloaded from ITICExternal Website. Those who publish VPAT 2.0 have to follow the points outlined in essential requirements and best practices to complete the VPAT 2.0 conformance report.

VPAT 2.0 is updated from VPAT 1.0 to allow the venders create the accessibility conformance reports based on revised section 508 standards and section 255 guidelines. The current template also allows the user to report for W3C WCAG 2.0 standards and EN301 549 requirements. Venders are expected to report at least one of these standards to publish a VPAT® 2.0 report. VPAT 2.0 users agree not to deviate materially from the template format provided by ITICExternal Website, and to use the service mark (“®”) where appropriate. Further it is not mandatory to use the same format as provided on the ITICExternal Website. Venders can create their VPAT 2.0 reports in alternate formats such as PDF or HTML but the report must be accessible. Remove the content such as instructions and other sections which are not applicable for your product before publishing it following the instructions provided there.

The integrity of the data provided in VPAT 2.0 is the responsibility of the venders who created it. This template should allow the users / buyers to do a preliminary analysis of the accessibility features in the product.

WebAIM screen reader user survey 7

WebAIM screen reader user survey 7 is a study conducted by webAIMExternal Website to understand the preferences of screen reader users. This survey helps web developers and those who create web standards understand the new trends and practices screen reader users follow and thus try incorporating the best practices.

The webAIM screen reader user survey 7External Website is primarily intended for the actual screen reader users, however those who use screen readers for evaluation of websites and applications are also encouraged to take the survey.

The survey is open until November 1, 2017. It contains 30 questions that may approximately take 15 minutes. The survey is purely voluntary. Taking this survey will help in advancement of best practices in the space of accessible ICT.

Note that no personally identifiable information is collected in the survey. The browser and operating system information is collected when you submit the survey. The aggregated results of the survey will be made available by the end of the year.

To take the survey and for any further information visit WebAIM screen reader user survey 7External Website.

My thoughts

  • Few mobile screen readers such as Ideal and voice assistance are very rarely used as far as I know. In webAIM screen reader survey #6External Website these screen readers are not been shown. Interested to see the results in this area.
  • Another interesting question in the survey is “Which of the following most accurately describes your screen reader usage?”. I think results help in understanding the screen reader usage along with auditory/ visual comparisons.
  • Screen reader user survey #6External Website have not given a clear picture on the use of landmarks and skip links. Hope the latest survey helps to get to a more clear understanding.

aria-colspan property

aria-colspan property defines the number of columns a cell spanned within a table, grid or a treegrid. Use host attribute equivalent if available. If both the host language equivalent and aria-colspan property are defined user agents have to pick the value expressed through the host language attribute and expose it to assistive technologies.

Content authors must set the value of aria-colspan greater than or equal to 1 and less than or equal to total number of columns of the table. The exact value should be the number of columns the cell is spanned.

Aria-colspan property used in roles

Values of aria-colspan property

The value of aria-colspan property should be an integer greater than or equal to 1 and less than or equal to total number of columns in the table, grid or treegrid. In other words the value should be equal to the total number of cells the author want to span.

HTML5 Accesskey

HTML5 accesskey attribute can be assigned to any focusable or actionable element on the page. The HTML5 accesskey attribute’s value is used by the user agent as a guide for creating a keyboard shortcut that activates or focuses the element. An accesskey helps users with motor disabilities in activating the element. It also helps the power users to do the task without moving the hand away from the keyboard for mouse click.

In some browsers accesskey just takes the user focus on to the element. User has to activate the element manually. Certain browsers will move the focus and activate the element when the accesskey is invoked.

How to assign an accesskey

Use the accesskey attribute with the desired shortcut as the value. The value of the accesskey must be an ordered set of unique space-separated tokens that are case-sensitive.

Choosing a best accesskey

Choosing an accesskey is a tough job. Keep the following best practices in mind while assigning them.

  • Accesskey must not conflict with user agent (browser), assistive technology (eg screen reader) or operating systems shortcut commands. Eg: Assigning accesskey “a” will conflict with favorites’ menu in internet explorer (alt + a).
  • Use one or more shortcuts to invoke the accesskey. Having one of them as a number will help for devices where only numbers can be invoked and also less chance of conflicting with user agent, assistive technology and operating systems. Most of the screen readers announces the accesskey when user focus on it. Since different user agents(browsers) have different key combinations to invoke accesskeys it is good to label the key commands. Eg: Mozilla Firefox uses Alt + shift while MicroSoft Internet Explorer uses Alt along with accesskey. See the section below to understand the process of labeling the element with key command.
  • Duplicate accesskey combinations are not advised. Meaning accesskey “a” should not be used for different elements on the same page.

Labelling the key commands with accesskey on the element

The accessKeyLabel attribute must be used to display the key combination assigned by the user agent (browser). Sample code below.

<br /> <input type=submit accesskey="c @ 1" value="Compose"/><br /> <script> function labelButton(button) { if (button.accessKeyLabel) button.value += ' (' + button.accessKeyLabel + ')'; } var inputs = document.getElementsByTagName('input'); for (var i = 0; i < inputs.length; i += 1) { if (inputs[i].type == "submit") labelButton(inputs[i]); } </script><br /> </script>

Accesskey combination on different browsers

Different browsers use different key commands to invoke accesskey. Below are most used browser key command combinations.

Browser/ Operating System Windows Mac
Chrome Alt + accesskey Control + Alt + accesskey
Firefox Alt + Shift + accesskey Control + Alt + accesskey
Internet Explorer Alt + accesskey  
Safari Alt + accesskey Control + Alt + accesskey

Related Links

Latest advances in Assistive Technologies

It’s estimated that 48.9 million people in the United States have some sort of disability. 24.1 million people have severe disabilities, and 34.2 million people have a functional limitation, according to the U.S. Census Bureau Survey of Income and Program Participation.

As defined by the survey, people who have severe disabilities are those who are unable to perform one or more activities of daily living; have one or more specific disabilities; or are long-term users of assistive devices such as crutches, walkers and wheelchairs.

As defined by the survey, people who have a non-severe disability are those who have difficulty performing functional activities such as seeing, hearing, lifting, carrying, climbing stairs, walking or having their speech understood. The survey concluded that people who have a non-severe disability have difficulty with activities of daily living.

There are many new advances in assistive technology. Smart gloves, driverless cars, robotic arms and more are just some of the new advances coming out for people who have physical or mental disabilities that prevent them from living normally.

Smart Gloves

Smart gloves are one of the latest advances in assistive technology. Smart gloves were created by researchers at the University of California in San Diego. The inexpensive smart gloves automatically translate American Sign Language to digital text that appears on a computer or smartphone.

To use the gloves, the wearer simply signs American Sign Language. The American Sign Language is then recognized by the ways of variances in the electrical resistance. The variances allow an onboard computer to figure out what letter is being signed. The computer then transfers this information to a Bluetooth with no cameras required.

There are other gloves out there that claim to translate American Sign Language into digital text, but Smart Gloves use simple components. The components in the Smart Gloves add up to less than $100. It’s an affordable solution to a difficult problem The research team included materials scientists, chemists and chemical engineers. Graduate student Timothy O’Connor worked on the project for two years before it was completed.

The Car for Blind Drivers

Engineer Dennis Hong is currently developing a car that can actually be driven by people who are blind. Dennis Hong is integrating several sensors, computer systems and cameras. The cameras will be used to observe the environment around the vehicle while providing sound and vibration for the driver using sensory input. The sounds and vibrations may include auditory alerts, pulsing vibration signals in gloves worn by the driver, seat vibrations of various strengths and locations and a screen that displays a virtual picture of the vehicle’s surroundings using compressed air.

Even if the vehicle comes out, it may not be street legal even though the vehicle’s technology is extremely promising. If it isn’t a safe and affordable vehicle, other engineers can learn a lot from the sensors and innovations coming out as a result of the project.

Google’s Driverless Car

We all know that other car brands have come out with driverless cars, notably Tesla, but Google also has a driverless car. Google’s driverless car has potential in assistive technology. Not only will Google’s driverless car help people who are blind, but it’ll also help people who have physical and mental disabilities that prevent them from getting behind the wheel of a car. It would serve as independent and safe transportation for people with disabilities.

The team of engineers at Google have built the car to operate on its own using a combination of Google Street View and artificial intelligence using information gathered by the numerous sensors and cameras mounted on the vehicle. Google’s driverless car is already street legal in Nevada. Google engineers hope that one day it’ll be a life-changing device for people with disabilities all over the world.

The DynaVox EyeMax System

People who have disabilities such as paralysis, cerebral palsy and strokes can use the DynaVox EyeMax System to participate in communication using only their eyes. The device uses a sophisticated eye tracking system in which users can interact with an on-screen keyboard. The on-screen keyboard allows users to enter words and phrases. After the user enters words and phrases, they’ll be translated into spoken text through the device’s text-to-speech mechanism.

The InterACCt language software that’s included with the device offers the user hundreds of pre-defined words and phrases. The pre-defined words and phrases can then be selected from lists or chosen through images and scenes. The InterACCt language software is ideal for young children and people with mental disabilities who may not understand written language.

Cochlear Implant

The cochlear implant isn’t new, but it needs to be talked about. The software and hardware for the device continue to improve.

The cochlear implant is more than just a hearing aid. The implant picks up sound using a built-in microphone. The built-in microphone then carries the signal to a small computer worn behind the ear where it’s transferred to a digital signal and transmitted to the implant. Once the digital signal is transmitted to the implant, the device then directly stimulates the auditory nerve. The implant provides new means of auditory input.

The development of the implant began in the late 1950s. It was the first commercial implant received to receive FDA approval in 1984. Cochlear implants have dramatically improved since the 1950s and the 1980s. When the implant was first developed, it provided mostly static. Today, cochlear implants have more than 20 sound channels. The extensive sound channels allows the user to hear with much better quality compared to decades ago. Sometimes, people will hear background noise with a cochlear implant, but verbal communication is made possible.

The iBot Stair-Climbing Wheelchair

The iBot is a self-balancing, stair-climbing wheelchair for people who are physically disabled. Traditional wheelchairs aren’t able to climb stairs, but the iBot is. Stairs are nearly everywhere, so the iBot is a good wheelchair to have easier mobility. Most people who use traditional wheelchairs have to have help from someone to carry them up and down stairs. Having someone else carry them up and down stairs is dangerous for both individuals.

The self-balancing technology found in the iBot is similar to the technology found in the Segway. Using the iBot will allow physically disabled people able to climb any terrain without any issues.

Unfortunately, the iBot isn’t currently in production. People with physical disabilities can only hope that the iBot will return one day in the future to give them a life-changing experience.

The DEKA Robotic Arm

Dean Kamen, the same creator of the iBot also created the DEKA robotic arm. Dean Kamen and his researchers received funding for the project from the Department of Defense’s DARPA research agency. Dean Kamen and the researchers decided to create the robotic arm for injured soldiers returning from the Middle East.

The robotic arm weighs less than eight pounds. It has so much precision and control that it can easily peel an orange. The robotic arm has numerous customizable controls and modular components.

The robotic arm also has a sensory feedback system. For example, the hand sensors measure the strength of the hand grip so that it can provide feedback to the person wearing the arm in form of vibrations that grow stronger as the grip increases. This allows the person wearing the arm to be able to determine what strength of grip is and isn’t appropriate for specific tasks. It also gives them feedback on how much pressure is being applied.

Final Words

Assistive technology has come a long way in the last few years. There are always new devices coming out to help people who have physical and mental disabilities. The devices that are out now that help disabled people continue to see improvements and upgrades.

A lot of people who have physical and mental disabilities haven’t been able to live a normal life until new assistive technology has come out. Now, some people with disabilities are able to live a normal, comfortable life just like other people around the world.

Even though the iBot isn’t currently in production, we can only hope that someone has learned from what they built so another stair-climbing wheelchair can be built again so that people with physical limitations can easily get around the world.

2.5 million people in America have developed a developmental disability. In a one-year period, approximately 51.3 million people have a developmental disability. 5 million people in America have a severe developmental disability.

Building assistive technology may allow people who are unable to work because of their disabilities work again. This will decrease the amount of people who are on disability, and it’ll help the economy grow. It’ll also ensure that the disabled person will always be able to pay their bills instead of living month-to-month on disability.

Disabled people are finally getting the freedom they deserve.

This article was originally published in Guardian HelmetsExternal Website and reposted here with their permition.

About Guardian Helmets

Recent CDC data shows that approximately 1.7 million people sustain a traumatic brain injury annually in the U.S. Guardian HelmetsExternal Website is committed to reducing these statistics. These helmets are uniquely designed safety helmets that serve multiple purposes. Being used as a general safety helmet, autism helmet, epilepsy helmet and more, Guardian Helmets is dedicated to developing products that reduce the risk of brain injury for people struggling with medical and special needs as well as those who partake in at risk work or play activities. The designs of the helmet are based on specific feedback from parents and medical experts in traumatic brain injury. They offer maximum safety when it comes to protective headgear and come in a large variety of colors and sizes. The intro is in the making.


Appeal to Apple for Adding Telugu Text to Speech support in Voiceover

Dear all,
A sincere appeal to add Telugu Text to Speech to aid blind IOS users.

Content on the web and elsewhere is increasingly rendered in local languages. Multilingual websites are increasingly becoming popular. On social media like facebook, I have several times urged my friends to provide the content alternately in English just because popular screen readers not at all or in few cases partially read Telugu.

It is quite evident that IOS with voiceover is the best accessible operating system / screen reader combination in the mobile space. Though the devices are expensive people with disabilities are showing interest to have an IOS device because of its accessibility. To use Apple devices by persons with disabilities more effectively and efficiently having support of regional languages is vital. Many of my student friends have to read their books, newspapers in local languages, employees who work in the state government have their circulars and other internal documents in Telugu language and of course none of us want to miss that great conversations on facebook, whatsapp, twitter etc.

My friend Parameshwararao nagavolu have filed a petition on Change.org appealing Apple to add support to Telugu Text to Speech on Voiceover. We need support from all of you for this cause.

What should you do?

Open the link Appeal to add telugu text to speech for blind to read telugu in voice over On your browser.

Share your simple information such as First Name, Last Name and email Address and hit Sign button under “Sign this petition”.

More Information

Youtube video in English

Youtube video in Telugu

Note: In case if you cannot see the section “Sign this petition, clear your browsing history.

  • Internet Explorer: Control + Shift + Delete
  • Google Chrome : Control + h
  • Mozilla Firefox: Control + Shift + Delete

aria-colindex property

aria-colindex property is used on a table, grid or a treegrid where all the columns are currently not present. aria-colindex property notifies the index or position of the column in a table or grid or a treegrid with respect to the number of columns available. User agents can calculate the index of the column if all the columns of the table or grid are available, so aria-colindex property is not required in those cases.

The value of aria-colindex property must be greater than or equal to one, greater than the value of previous colindex in the same row and less than or equal to total number of columns in the table. For a cell or gridcell that spans more than one column set aria-colindex property at the beginning of the cell. If the set of columns which is present in the DOM is contiguous, and if there are no cells which span more than one row or column in that set, then authors may place aria-colindex on each row, setting the value to the index of the first column of the set.

Also see similar aria-colcount property

aria-colindex property used in roles

Values of aria-colindex property

The value of aria-colindex property must be greater than or equal to one, greater than the value of previous colindex in the same row and less than or equal to total number of columns in the table.

CSUN-2018, Inclusive Design 24 and WCAG 2.1 Updates

Important updates on CSUN asistive technology conference (CSUN-2018), Inclusive Design 24 (#ID 24) and WCAG 2.1 public draft for review are updated in this article. This is the time to present and talk on your experiences, view points and be a part of the change in the world of accessibility. The August public draft for review on WCAG 2.1 is due until September 13 2017. Look at the public draft and share any comments or feedback you may have.

CSUN-2018 General Call for papers

The General Call for Papers for the 33rd CSUN Assistive Technology Conference (CSUN-2018) will open Thursday, September 14, 2017 and conclude on Tuesday, October 3, 2017.

CSUN-2018 event venue and dates

The 33rd CSUN Assistive Technology Conference (CSUN-2018) will be held March 19 2018 to March 23 2018 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego, Ca.

Important dates for CSUN-2018

  • General Call for papers open on September 14 2017 and closes on October 3rd 2017.
  • Notification of acceptance October 24th 2017.
  • Speaker registration opens on October 31st 2017 and closes on November 28th 2017.
  • Late speaker registration is open until December 19th 2017.

Visit CSUN 2018 General call for papersExternal Website for latest updates.

Submission topics, dates and guidelines can be found at CSUN 2018 call for papers Overview External Website

Call for presentations Inclusive Design 24

Inclusive Design 24 celebrates efforts worldwide to ensure people with disabilities have full and equal access to the web. To this end, #ID24 will be holding 24 completely free one-hour webinars on all things accessibility. The sessions range from beginner to advanced and are aimed at everyone from executives to web developers.

The next inclusive design 24 #ID24 is planned on November 16 2017. The call for presentations are currently opened. Call for presentation can be submitted until September 17 2017. Selected talks will be notified on September 25 2017.

Submit your talkExternal Website and be a part of the change you want to see. For more information visit Inclusive Design 24External Website.

Have any questions? Why not drop an email at id24@paciellogroup.com.

WCAG 2.1 public draft for review

The Accessibility Guidelines Working Group has published an updated Working DraftExternal Website of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1

Highlights of this and upcoming drafts

  • Today’s draft includes additional success criteria that the Working Group approved. Further details are in the status section and changes are listed in the change logExternal Website.
  • A draft is planned for September that will comprise the final set of new success criteria. The Working Group particularly seeks comments on addressing any overlaps between success criteria, and possibly reorganizing or renumbering success criteria.
  • In November a draft will be published that incorporates those changes from the September draft, and is intended to be the final version beginning implementation testing.
  • WCAG 2.1 is expected to be published as a W3C Recommendation by mid-2018.

To comment, the Working Group requests input be filed as new issues on githubExternal Website. or by email to public-agwg-comments@w3.org.

The Working Group requests comments on this draft be filed by 13 September 2017.

Mobile Accessibility practices for Government Of India Applications

Few months earlier, a set of like minded accessibility enthusiasts under the co-ordination of Dr Nirmita Narasimhan of Center for Internet and SocietyExternal Website came together to formulate mobile accessibility practices to share with the Government of India. Government of India and various state governments are using mobile applications as a channel to communicate, provide services and get feedback on governance. We have found that these fruits are not reaching to more than 150 million Indians with disabilities. So, we want to educate the departments and teams developing these mobile applications on the importance of mobile application accessibility and ensure that they have right technical knowledge in making them accessible.

Presently there is no single uniform international standard on the accessibility of mobile apps. The W3C is working on a standard, which will take time to be published. In the meantime it has published some best practices, primarily based upon the WCAG 2.0. There are also guidelines available from Google , Apple and BBC. However, none of these are comprehensive and cannot be adopted as is. Experts from various organizations with their experience and a study conducted by CIS to understand the challenges encountered by people with disabilities in using the government apps are compiled together to formulate these mobile accessibility practices.

Though the primary intention of these mobile accessibility practices are for the government, these can be adapted and used as reference for any mobile application developer / designer.

Bookmark the Mobile Accessibility Practices page to refer anytime you develop a mobile application. Upon request we can also provide a PDF to have the practices handy. The contributors’ section of the mobile accessibility practices document contains the names and email addresses to which you can drop a note should you have any questions or feedback. Alternately you can also comment on the mobile accessibility practices page too.

Lets together make web a better place.

aria-colcount (property)

Dynamic tables are quite common in modern web. Number of columns depends on the data fetched by the input given by the user or any other parameters that define the table. aria-colcount (property) will be ideal to use in scenarios where the total number of columns are not available currently in the DOM. If all the columns of the table are present in the DOM aria-colcount (property) is not required. The user agents can calculate the total number of columns in the table and share it with assistive technologies.

Along with aria-colcount property aria-colindex property also need to be provided for user agents to effectively inform the position of current column within the table in case of dynamic tables.

Developers must set the value of aria-colcount to an integer equal to the number of columns in the full table. In case the total number of columns is unknown, authors must set the value of aria-colcount to -1 to indicate that the value should not be calculated by the user agent.

Aria-colcount property used in roles

Values of aria-colcount property

Integer that is equal to the total number of columns in the table. The value must be -1 (minus one) if the total number of columns is unknown.