NFB Nonvisual Accessibility Web Certification

Criteria for Nonvisual Accessibility Certification

Nonvisually accessible, as defined in this program, means that screen access software can obtain sufficient information from the Web application to enable the blind user to:

  • Access information in narratives, databases, forms, charts, maps, and essential information conveyed via graphical presentations without visual assistance
  • Complete transactions that have been identified as primary to the application such as, but not limited to: buying merchandise, completing forms, registering for activities, downloading information, communicating with others, and participating in online educational programs.

Some organizations may choose to meet this requirement by creating text-only versions of their Web sites or applications. Technically, text-only sites or applications can be regarded as accessible, however, they create two concerns for blind users. First, if the sole purpose for creating a text-only version of a site or application is to meet an accessibility requirement then the implication is that people with disabilities must be treated separately albeit equally. Second, our experience with text-only Web sites or applications has been that they are not updated as often and as reliably as the primary mixed (text and graphics) Web sites or applications. Therefore, while we are willing to test text-only Web sites or applications that are meant to provide accessible alternatives, assurances about updating procedures, equitable uses, and the purposes of text-only versions will be expected.

Below is a selected list of features or functions that will be examined and assessed for nonvisual accessibility during the access review conducted by the NFB prior to certification of an application or Web site.

  • Links - Sufficient information is provided for the user to determine the purpose of the link (e.g., link text can be read by the screen access software to tell the user what the link will do).

  • Tables - Table headings are consistent on data tables, and screen access software table navigation functions are able to present tabular information in a meaningful way.

  • Charts - Screen access software can extract meaningful information from charts (e.g., a text description of information conveyed via a pie chart is easily available).

  • Frames - Each frame has a title that can be read by screen access software, and that title conveys useful information about the function of the frame (e.g., frame titles do not simply give the location of the frame on the page but describe the purpose of the frame).

  • Edit Boxes - A clear descriptor of each edit box is available to screen access software (e.g., when the user tabs to an edit box, the screen access software might say, "first name edit," or "last name edit," as opposed to "edit").

  • Check Boxes and Radio Buttons - Text information about the purpose of checkboxes and radio buttons is easily available to screen access software, enabling the blind computer user to know what is being checked or unchecked.

  • Push Buttons - The purpose of the button is identified, and the user can determine the action to be executed when the button is pressed. All buttons that can be seen on the page are detectable with screen access software.

  • Select Menus (Combo Boxes) - The menu options can be navigated with screen access software without causing form submission or a screen change. Single and multiple selections can be made and the selections can be reviewed.

  • Non-Standard Controls (elements used in a page that perform nontraditional behavior) -Such controls can be executed with screen access software, and the user is provided with enough information to make good use of the control (e.g., a hypertext link, which traditionally takes one to a different page, is now used to select or highlight an item on the page; with screen access software, the user is able to determine which item on the page has been highlighted).

  • Device Dependency - All actions that provide material function must be executable from the keyboard (e.g., there must be keyboard accessible equivalents to JavaScript actions triggered only through the use of the mouse when those actions are material to the page).

  • Image Maps - Selections can be identified by the screen access program (e.g., there is text available in a logical order to screen access software for the user to understand and select items on the image map). If certain selections cannot be made accessible, an alternative must be provided (e.g., a properly labeled hypertext link).

  • Pictures and Graphics - Those that convey important information central to the function of the site or application are described using text that is easily available to screen access software. The user should be able to understand the meaning of the graphic or picture (e.g., a logo for a company is labeled "logo for XYZ Co.").

  • Animation - Methods for an alternative to the animation are available and easily accessible to screen access software (e.g., a presentation that shows via animation how a product works is accompanied by a text equivalent that can be reached by pressingon a link).

  • Client Side Content Changes (Changes occurring on a Web page without a round trip to the server) - All such changes are detectable by screen access software.

  • Repetitive Link Skipping - A function that allows users to skip past repetitive navigation links and standard navigation features is available and usable with screen access software. This function allows a user to quickly access the meat of the page without having to listen to numerous redundant links.

  • Forced Focus Changes (content on the screen changing without a specific command from the user) - Such changes can be easily turned off by a user running screen access software.

  • External File Types - All material information provided through an external file type is accessible to screen access software or an alternative accessible version is provided. Examples of external file types include the Portable Document Format (PDF) from Adobe Systems and Flash presentations from Macromedia.

  • Inline Interfaces - Interface elements within Windows applications (e.g., the controls used within an audio playback program that is functioning as a plug-in) are accessible to screen access software.

  • Media Presentations - Media presentations such as streaming audio or video are accompanied by text transcripts of content that can be accessed and read with screen access software.

  • Exclusive Use of Color - Color is not used exclusively to convey information (e.g., flagging an error message in the color red). Instead, the use of color to convey information is augmented with text or graphics that carries the same information and is accessible to screen access software.

  • Timed Events - For tasks which must be completed within a specific time interval, screen access technology can be used to increase or eliminate the time requirement.

  • Hierarchical Relationships - A logical hierarchy must be denoted in a way that is accessible to screen readers (e.g., letters, numbers, quotation marks, etc. as opposed to indentation).

This list is not exhaustive, and other aspects or elements that inhibit nonvisual accessibility will be considered on an as-needed basis. Functional tests will be run on the application to ensure that these individual features are put together to create a usable whole.

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