Nonvisual Accessibility Web Certification
Web Accessibility Consultants (WACs)
Special thanks to Jim Thatcher of Accessibility Consulting for all of his help in the development of this Web Accessibility Program and on many other accessibility issues relating to technology. To take advantage of Jim's consulting services, contact him at:
Documents consultants can help render inaccessible documents accessible. Please note that many of the targeted documents and resources are PDF documents. These can be remediated, but we recommend considering other XML-based formats such as HTML, EPUB and DAISY where possible.
NetCentric Technologies, Inc.
1200 G Street, NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: (202) 661-2180
BECOMING A WEB ACCESSIBILITY CONSULTANT (WAC)
- Do you have experience with nonvisual access technology?
- Have you used screen access technology in testing Web applications for accessibility?
- Do you own licenses for at least two screen reading programs?
- Are you familiar with Section 508 requirements and W3C guidelines?
- Are you willing to provide examples of applications that have undergone your testing process, and are you willing to submit your Web application audit process to be certified by the National Federation of the Blind?
- Are you committed to creating Web-wide nonvisual access?
If the answer to all of these questions is a resounding YES, then you may be qualified to become a Web Accessibility Consultant (WAC) for the National Federation of the Blind Nonvisual Access Certification program for Web applications.
WHY BECOME A WAC?
Jump Ahead on the Market for Accessible Technology
Compelling Statistics indicate that there is a large market of blind and visually impaired individuals who are able and willing to use the Internet for a variety of purposes--personal and professional--provided that they can navigate the sites. Moreover, Web applications that are accessible to blind people are often accessible to persons with other disabilities as illustrated by making a site or application navigable without the use of a mouse. The business potential of having an accessible Web application is enormous.
Add to this that it is well accepted that over 90 percent of the requirements of Section 508 are related to nonvisual access and that there are an increasing number of states who have passed bills mandating nonvisual access to technology. It now becomes obvious that a large number of companies wanting to do business with the government and even in the private sector will be searching for ways to make their Web applications accessible. If you are qualified to be an NFB WAC, it will be that much easier for these companies to find you and give you their business.
Use the National Federation of the Blind as a Resource
In spite of a thorough knowledge of accessibility requirements and issues, many technology companies still have questions related to nonvisual access that are best answered by those who use the technology on a day-to-day basis. The National Federation of the Blind has staff members who rely on such technology and access to many more consumers who use access technologies in all walks of life.
In addition to our practical and technical expertise, we are committed to following closely changes in widespread applications as they relate to accessibility issues. An application that is not accessible today may become accessible tomorrow and require a different treatment when testing a Web site or application than it formerly merited. The National Federation of the Blind, which runs the International Braille and Technology Center for the Blind uses its resources to stay abreast of such changes.
Be Known as a Socially Responsible Company
If you meet the challenging requirements of becoming an NFB WAC, you will be a part of a rigorous, trustworthy certification process that has at its heart a mission to promote equal access for blind people on the World Wide Web. Your presence in such an exclusive group will not go unnoticed by those who are seeking companies that have incorporated into their businesses finding ways to make the world just a little bit better--one step at a time.
WEB ACCESSIBILITY CONSULTANT (WAC) REQUIREMENTS
In addition to the knowledge, competencies, and experience expected from consultants who would develop, maintain, and enhance Web sites and Web applications, the National Federation of the Blind expects that a Web Accessibility Consultant participating in its Nonvisual Accessibility Certification program will meet the requirements outlined below--requirements that are necessary if any nonvisual access certification effort is to be properly supported. The requirements assume that the applicant organization has a degree of familiarity with the assistive technology environment, testing methods, and relevant standards.
Screen Access Technology
To become a WAC, an applicant organization must have a working familiarity with screen access programs for the blind and be able to perform standard tasks using Internet Explorer with these programs. Screen access programs (sometimes referred to as screen readers) refer to the class of assistive technologies that render, in an auditory fashion, visual information displayed on a computer screen. There are a number of screen access programs on the market today, but the WAC needs to develop a working familiarity only with JAWS for Windows and Window-Eyes (see Screen Access Software for the Blind). The applicant WAC should be able to conduct tasks and be familiar with the capabilities and limitations of each screen access program.
To become a WAC, an applicant organization must have a working familiarity with the underlying methodologies and concepts that allow screen access technology to interact with the underlying operating system or program. This should include a working knowledge of Microsoft Active Accessibility (MSAA) and the method by which screen access technology determines control labels.
To become a WAC, an applicant organization should be familiar with the usage paradigms of blind computer users and aware of common usability concerns for this user class. This user class has specific concerns when conducting usability tests and the ATC should be able to detect and accurately test for these concerns.
To become a WAC, an applicant organization must have a high degree of familiarity with audit methodologies and be able to conduct highly accurate tests of a client organization's Web site or Web application. The NFB Nonvisual Accessibility Certification program assumes that the client organization will be able to detect and remedy the vast majority of problems that are present within the Web site or application. For any given site or application, the WAC must be able to detect at least 95% of the violations present in the application and provide proper remedies for these violations.
To become a WAC, an applicant organization should be familiar with relevant accessibility standards and versed in the implementation of these standards in contemporary Web sites. The WAC should have a working familiarity with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, Priority One and Priority Two as well as the Section 508 guidelines. While not all of these guidelines are relevant to nonvisual access, most of them are, and therefore, a general familiarity with them will be expected.
To become a WAC, an applicant organization should be familiar with the interaction between various plug-ins and screen access technology. Such plug-ins include, but are not limited to, the Adobe Acrobat Reader, Macromedia Flash, the Real Audio Player, and the Windows Media Player.
For specific examples of what the NFB-NVA Certification program will be testing to determine accessibility, please see Criteria for Nonvisual Accessibility Certification.
SCREEN ACCESS SOFTWARE FOR THE BLIND
Screen access programs, typically written to run under the Windows operating system, convert information displayed on the computer's display into a form that is usable by someone who can't see the screen. Typically, these programs convert the information into synthesized speech. In some cases, the information is converted into "refreshable Braille," which is produced on a peripheral device connected to the computer.
Today, there are two screen access programs in wide use within the blind community: JAWS for Windows and Window-Eyes. Both of these programs provide nonvisual access to many Windows applications. In terms of running Web applications or reading information from various Web sites, these programs are designed to work with the Internet Explorer browser. In fact, they are so tightly coupled with the program that, from the perspective of the blind computer user, navigating a Web page is very similar to navigating within a word processed document.
Here is the contact information for each screen access software vendor:
JAWS for Windows
Freedom Scientific, Blind/Low Vision Group
11800 31st Court North
St. Petersburg, Florida 33716-1805
Phone: (800) 444-4443; (727) 803-8000
Fax: (727) 803-8001
Tech support for all products: (727) 803-8600
Web site: http://www.freedomscientific.com/
725 Airport North Office Park
Fort Wayne, Indiana 46825
Phone: (260) 489-3671
Fax: (260) 489-2608
Web site: http://www.gwmicro.com/
Why Certify? | Why the NFB? | Criteria for Certification | Becoming Certified | Fees | Seal | Web Accessibility Consultants (WACs) | Certified Web Sites and Applications | Inaccessible Web Site Notification Form