Advantages and disadvantages of automated web accessibility testing tools: Chetan Bakhru at CSUN 2014


Whether you are an independent web developer or you work for a consulting firm interested in web accessibility, a veteran in the accessibility industry, a tester or a novice, you’ll want to be sure to attend Chetan Bakhru’s presentation outlining the advantages and disadvantages of automated web site accessibility testing tools. Use of these tools, while thought by some to be a labor saving shortcut, when used by someone without thorough knowledge of accessibility, can paint a misleading picture of web access compliance. For example, an automated tool cannot make a determination as to how descriptive alt text may or may not be, as it cannot interpret what is contextually relevant or considered to be descriptive enough. Chetan generously granted my request for an interview, and explained for my readers what they can expect when they attend his session at the CSUN Conference on Disability.

LL: Please describe for the readers of the AI Blog the goals for your presentation.
CB: The goal of my presentation is to educate individuals and organizations on what the advantages and disadvantages of using automated accessibility testing tools to verify the accessibility of websites are, what the characteristics of good automated testing tools are, and why the use of other methods of testing for accessibility is essential.

LL: Who is the target audience for your talk?
CB: The target audience includes testers, developers, QA engineers, and/or anyone else interested in learning more about how to properly test for accessibility.

LL: What do you hope attendees take away from your presentation?
CB: The takeaway from this presentation is that automated testing has an important place in a tester’s toolset. The use of a good automated accessibility testing tool can result in increased productivity, efficiency and in the accuracy of results. However, there are many issues that these tools are unable to check for, and users of such tools must not rely on the tool to be the final determining factor in whether their site is accessible. Anyone using these tools should be well trained on their use, how to interpret their results, and have a good knowledge of accessibility.

More about Chetan Bakhru:
Chetan Bakhru is an IT consultant, web developer, technology trainer and accessibility advocate. He obtained his Bachelor’s of Science degree in Information Technology specializing in Software Engineering from the University of Phoenix in 2009, and his Master’s degree in Software Engineering from Penn State University in 2013. Over the past several years, Chetan has worked for many organizations providing technical support to customers, training users on the use of computers and assistive technology, developing websites, and helping make existing websites, desktop applications, and mobile apps accessible to people with disabilities. He is originally from southern California, currently works in the DC metro area as an Assistive Technology Tester at SSB Bart Group, and intends to relocate back to the west coast sometime soon. On the side, he also runs a website called Blind Planet (http://blind-planet.com), a site which labels itself as “Your one-stop resource for anything blindness related” and which contains a wealth of technology-related material. Blind Planet also provides web development, assistive technology, and general computer training services to those who are blind or low vision at a nominal cost. Some of the websites Chetan has either developed or helped make accessible include http://www.nib.org, http://www.worldaccessfortheblind.org, http://www.nonvisualdevelopment.org, and http://www.colorfascination.com

To learn more about Chetan, or to follow his work, here are his contact details:
Twitter Handle: @cbakhru
Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/cbakhru
LinkedIn Page: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/chetan-bakhru-pmp/2a/663/15a
Facebook Profile: https://www.facebook.com/chetan.bakhru
Google+ Profile: https://plus.google.com/112898281638210974817
Website: http://blind-planet.com
Email: chetan@bakhru.net or webmaster@blind-planet.com
Phone: 714-816-4105

Don’t forget to click on the link to indicate your interest in this session, and save yourself a seat. Go to the CSUN Conference session details page:

http://www.csun.edu/cod/conference/2014/sessions/index.php/public/presentations/view/173

Be sure to use hashtag CSUN14 when tweeting about the event.

See you there!

LL

Join Joseph K. O’Connor in a global effort to build a more accessible Word Press


The session that will be presented by Joseph Karr O’Connor at the CSUN 2013 International Technology and Persons with Disabilities conference in San Diego, California, promises to be a popular one. Joe will be focusing on WordPress accessibility, will be showcasing the work that has been achieved by the WordPress accessibility team, and will talk about Cities, a global effort to create free accessible themes for use with the WordPress blogging system.

WordPress is currently the most popular free blogging system in use on the web. It has many features including a template system that makes sites look and function as they do. Templates are free and available at http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/ where there are currently 1,691 themes. Only a handful of those themes allow information to be accessible to everyone, regardless of ability. WordPress server software has recently been upgraded to version 3.5 with some new accessibility features for site owners, but it is not fully accessible. The presentation will report on the people involved in making the back-end of WordPress accessible, and the teams of accessibility experts from Mumbai, Sydney, New York, and several other cities who are building accessible themes.

O’Connor has an impressive history of contribution to the technology industry. He regularly attends local meetup groups in Santa Monica’s Silicon Beach to introduce the concept of accessibility to developers. During one of his many visits to local WordPress and general tech industry meetups to advocate for online accessibility, one member of the audience interrupted Joe. “Excuse me,” she said, “What is ‘accessibility’?” This is why Joe believes outreach is so important.

O’Connor realized there was much work to be done to raise awareness as to the specific barriers imposed by web developers who failed to create accessible online destinations. After years of searching for accessible themes for clients, Joe was struck by inspiration for the Cities project. He challenged teams of accessibility practitioners around the world to create accessible Word Press themes for free.

Joseph is also working with the team at WordPress.org to implement a voluntary theme accessibility assessment process. “Theme developers can submit themes with tags or categories for assessment.” O’Connor says. “This will be part of the regular theme checking process, but will be voluntary.”

Whether you are a WP theme developer or just a Word Press devotee, you are encouraged to attend joseph’s session. He hopes to have some themes ready at the time of his presentation, and sing the praises of the teams of volunteers working to submit accessible WordPress themes, which will be available through the themes directory. The presentation will be held on Thursday, February 28 at 1:50. All are welcome.

As if O’Connor isn’t busy enough, he is also hosting a WordPress Tweetup during the CSUN conference. The WordPress Accessibility Tweetup is on February 26, 4:30 – 5:30 pm, at the Hyatt, in the Paciello Group Suite. Show your support by signing up on Lanyrd at: lanyrd.com/cmhqy or just show up!

Joe will also be doing WordPress 3.5 usability testing at the CSUN conference, and is seeking a wide range of users with whom to spend a few minutes to create screencasts that will be shown to WordPress developers.

More about Joseph Karr O’Connor:

Joseph Karr O’Connor lives in Santa Monica, California, with his wife Linda, daughter Siobhan, daughter’s skilled companion dog Harriet, and cat, Achoo! His first career was in motion picture post production. Starting in 1991 his second career was computing in education. He found his true calling when Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act was enhanced to include web accessibility in 1998. Starting with pasadena.edu in 1999 and moving to csun.edu in 2005, web accessibility has been his focus. Now an accessibility consultant, he is working with Silicon Beach startups and international accessibility companies. He envisions a future where information is equally accessible to all.

You can follow @AccessibleJoe on Twitter, or you can visit his web sites:

Cities: Creating Accessible WordPress Themes
http://www.accessiblejoe/cities/

Black Telephone, Disability Rights
http://www.blacktelephone.com/
Twitter: @blacktelephone

To RSVP to attend O’Connor’s session, go here:
http://www.csun.edu/cod/conference/2013/sessions/index.php/public/presentations/view/210

Don’t forget to use hashtag #CSUN13 when tweeting about the conference.

LL