USU group making websites more accessible for those with disabilities

With an understanding of how people with disabilities use the web and how frustrated they feel when they can’t access it, Utah State University’s Center for Persons With Disabilities in 1999 set about finding answers.

It led to the creation of <a href=”https://webaim.org/” target=”_blank”>WebAIM</a> (Web accessibility in mind).

WebAIM has long set the standard for web accessibility and its WAVE tool makes it possible to determine whether a web page is usable for people with disabilities.

“We help people make their websites more accessible to people with disabilities,” said Jared Smith, Associate Director of WebAim. “Perhaps those dealing with blindness, deafness or hard of hearing, motor disabilities, those with disabilities using a keyboard or mouse.”

<a href=”http://wave.webaim.org/” target=”_blank”>WAVE</a> downloads a web page and performs some programming logic on it to detect the types of patterns and codes that would be problematic for users with disabilities.

“The online version of WAVE and the browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox are and always will be free,” said Smith. “That free version checks one page at a time.” It is available at wave.webaim.org.

“The new options allow someone to analyze their entire website, so a large website owner could analyze every page on the web site and select that data about accessibility.”

There are several tests or checks it looks for to help for accessibility.

“One example would be for users that have visual disabilities, say someone that is blind,” said Smith. “They cannot see images within a web page, so a website author would need to provide a little bit of text imbedded with that image to prove feedback about what the content of that image is.”

Users can access these new, more powerful tools in several ways. A subscription allows a user’s server to send and receive data from WebAIM via the cloud.

The new licensing options are made possible by USU’s technology transfer services.

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