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back to article iPad apps may need to be disabled-accessible

A draft British Standard on web accessibility warns organisations to consider how easily disabled users can access their websites on mobile phones, tablets and TVs. Ignoring their needs could breach BS 8878 and the Equality Act, it says. Standards body BSI has launched a second consultation on 'BS 8878 Web Accessibility – Code …

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Web, not apps

Rant: The report refers to websites, not apps. Why do authors persist in confusing websites and apps?

Anyway, websites. Government websites in particular already have a duty of compliance, but anyone who values their whole customer base should do so if only for commercial reasons. As an accessible device, the iPad itself seems to do rather well. RNIB's word doc review is at www.rnib.org.uk/livingwithsightloss/Documents/iPad_review.doc

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FAIL

Irony, O' sweet irony

The RNIB review is in MS Word. Not plain text. Not HTML. MS Word.

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Yep

'That's why I said 'RNIB's word doc review'. That and the .doc on the end of the URL were a couple of small clues

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How is an ipad Application a Website?

As per title, FFS how can an iPad application be considered a WEBSITE?

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Web products

Not website, although I would have thought that apps would already fall under the provision of a service laws.

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Coat

Which end of the stick?

If I make a website why am I liable for the method some chooses to use it. If someone is disabled to the point they struggle to access it on mobile phone, shouldn't they be using a PC instead? And with all the different platforms and browsers out there, how can anyone check if their site is 100% compatible?

Checking the pockets to see where common sense went

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If I make a website why am I liable for the method some chooses to use it.

Well according to the summary in that article, you're not. It says that if you've optimised your website for a particular platform, then you should also have considered optimising for accessibility on that platform.

So if you've got an iPhone version of your website, you should at least have seriously considered making an effort to make that accessible using the already existing tools on the iPhone.

_______________

I guess Flash has got to be one of the biggest barriers to accessibility going, so maybe Apple are ahead of the game in not allowing it...

While we're at it, could we have a law making it an offence punishable by firing-squad to make websites with black text on a dark brown background. I seem to have come across a rash of them recently, mostly expensive, over fussily designed, and massively beFlashed as well. And they make me want to suspend their designers over a tank full of pirhanas by their pony tails! Grrrrrr!

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WTF?

Systems and Websites

Having done 2 website audits against the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) standards - http://www.w3.org/WAI/ - I really don't want an additional set of checks nor see the need for a British Standard when there is already a standard.

Accessibility as it stands can be difficult to implement in full (especially when using screen readers).

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Section 508, Pas 78 and now BSI 8878

I will checkout BS 8878 later today. It isn't too difficult creating such sites (content dependent) to be honest, providing accessibility and usability features are not added as an afterthought. As I have discovered to my emotional and mental discomfort ;-)

I agree that one International standard should be sufficient, Pas 78 is based on the US section 508 standard and the guidelines specified by W3C, these are the standards I use when developing sites.

As far as I am aware there is a legal requirement for websites to satisfy at least level A of WCAG. If a site or web application is standards compliant and fulfills this requirement, any failure of the site or web app to render/function correctly on a particular platform should be considered the fault of the platform. I want a standards compliant Internet, hardware and software. I don't want to code several versions of the same content so that it is displayed correctly across all platforms.

It's sunny I am taking the rest of the day off.... Beer garden here I come ;-)

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PAS 78

PAS 78 was an early draft of the standard. BSI 8878 supersedes it. Section 508 doesn't apply unless you're doing business in the US.

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Why iPad?

It would be hard to argue that the iPad is possibly the most disabled-friendly device around - big touch screen, lots of Accessibility options. The RNIB has said as such recently. So why the focus on the iPad, Oh Reg? Not on a witch hunt, surely?

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Disability problems and the iPad

Witch hunts at the Reg are prefixed by "Nokia" :)

As for the iPad ... it has a few problems which Apple could have fixed. The utter reliance on a really poor form of touch-screen technology is one. The iPad, given a good voice synth, could have been excellent for groups such as those who today have to use a mouth-held piece of plastic to point out words and letters on a transparent piece of board in order to communicate ...

Since it's capacitive - no go. Not without MORE special equipment. Then, of course, there's the keyboard ... ever wondered why there's raised dots on the F and J keys?

People with speech problems could use the iPad to type what they want to say, and have it spoken aloud. Which will work poorly if you can't see too well.

If it wasn't for the witch hunt bit I'd suggest espeak on the N900 ...

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Troll

Disabled people don't exist to Apple

Now, why would disabled people be using trendy cool things that Apple make? They're not trendy or cool, are they?

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@Beavis

Cooler than you and your friend Butthead. Butthead!

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Title

Ok, given that the iPad isn't mentioned once in the article itself, why does the title say "iPad apps may need to be disabld-accessible" rather than "Mobile apps may need to be disabled-accessible" or "Web apps may need to be disabled-accessible"?

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Ah, legislation for the point of it.

They seem to be making legislation here with no suggestion of what area's need to be improved and how they should be. On one side they seem to be suggesting that everyone who makes websites should make sure they can be accessed by a disabled person on any platform, and on the other side they say that it should be the manufactures that sort it out.

Most visually impaired people I know opt for a standard web browsers and the custom stylesheet method combined with a over sized cursor and mouse/keyboard-focus triggered speech synth. (free on a mac, but i can understand it can be expensive on a PC)

An then there's the assumption that 'disabled' people want to interact with a website on devices that are not appropriate to their needs in the first place.

Surely under their logic on screen keyboards should be banned unless the device provides fast, accurate, voice recognition and tactile feedback. Or Youtube must add subtitles for all of its movies.

I will concede, tho, that advanced set top boxes/ IPTVs do need some work in the accessibility department.

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Newspapers..?

Given the fact that good old fashioned newspapers do not need to exist in braile format, why should a website be enforced to display content in any fashion? They are both conveying information.

I know, not very "pc" and all, but it seems very hypocritical

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Unhappy

Newspapers == static

A newspaper - a traditional, paper-printed newspaper - can only be converted to Braille by stint of effort and money. Quite a lot of both.

A well-engineered webpage containing the same information can be automatically converted without additional effort from anyone.

Strawman argument FTW.

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FAIL

heh?

"A well-engineered webpage containing the same information can be automatically converted without additional effort from anyone."

Have you ever developed a website? Well-engineering a webpage requires considerable effort. It certainly isn't free. Once it is created conversion is easy but it is much easier and cheaper to develop a website and not bother what it looks like on a iPad. You need to own one for a start.

I can't afford to engineer my websites to work on all platforms for all people.

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Anonymous Coward

Surely....

... the small text that is attached to a credit card agreement from a bank is illegal under the same rules as it is in (at max) size 8 text.

Is it now possible to say I couldnt read or understand the text as after the first 5 lines my eyes stopped functioning and my mind clouded over, a disability caused by reading the contract and therefore as I did not fully read or understand it I am diminished my responsibility of racking up £10k on it buying crap?

Sweet if the same logic works!!!

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Paris Hilton

Hmmm, how do I keep my job in a new government that has to reduce costs....

... I know, lets make a new BSI standard to apply from an existing standard that already exists.

Should this not go back to the platform that the app is created for and create the functionality on that ?

Can I put in my Application disclamer that disabled users are not supported unless the support comes from the platform vendor?

Is there a statistic that tells me how many disabled users access the type of application therefore how much time I should put into developing to include this standard?

How many people were paid from the public purse for this crapola and can I have my share of tax paid back again?

A good application should not be punished because the person putting in the development is a small business on a tight budget that hopes to expand. There is nothing like stifling development with bureaucracy. Could you imaging when the first Spectrums and Commodores were first created and the HR droid pipes up "Its not compliant with regulations on colour blindness, we cant sell Jet Set Willy or Space Pilot!"

Paris.... cause she knows how to handle getting shafted!

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Statistics?

Yes, there are. If you're running an e-commerce site the key stat will be how much revenue you lose by being inaccessible.

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Nobody has a right to be served

Government involvement here is unjustifiable. Developers should be free to choose whether to make their websites accessible, according to their own moral and commercial considerations. For them to be *forced* to cater to to particular groups is tantamount to slavery.

The Equality Act / DDA would be high on my list of candidates for the Great Repeal Bill.

http://suboptimalplanet.blogspot.com/2010/06/bsi-to-ipad-developers-thou-shalt-serve.html

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Anonymous Coward

Nominative Determinism

I couldn't help noticing the name of the BBC spokesman:

Jonathan Hassell, Head of User Experience and Accessibility at the BBC

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You all seem to have missed this paragraph

'The draft Standard also explains that the legislation can apply to some types of software, not just websites. "It is likely to cover software, and require it to be accessible, where it is provided as a download for installation and running on a user's computer or as an 'app' provided as a download for installation and running on a mobile device."'

Does this mean software like Modern Warfare 2 will have to be accessible to the blind, or those with a mobility restriction that cannot effectively use a keyboard, mouse or controller?

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Flame

Lowest common denominator

So extending this, basically we need to ban music because the deaf cannot hear it, ban art because the blind cannot see it, ban science because the stupid cannot understand it.

That about the gist of it?

No offence to the disabled, but if someone can't 'experience' my website, then they probably are not in my target demographic and I should not be forced to cater for them. For public services, absolutely - everyone needs to be included within reason, but for private or commercial sites? Particularly those based around forms of media that the afflicted cannot experience? What's the point?

Should be ban the iPad because you need hands to operate it?

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Level Playing Field

As a blind person who uses technology I would like to indicate some cost details to those who can see no reason for doing anything to enable blind people to access technology.

I, like anyone else, can go to the local computer store or internet store and purchase a relatively good PC for, say, £400. In order to make that accessible to me I also have to shell out almost double that to get a screen reader of worth. While this screen reader is a one-off purchase, it like all sofware needs to be updated at regular intervals to keep pace with technology, , like Windows 7, at additional costs.

My mobile phone, which most people will have as a free addition to their contract, needed a £150 package on it to make it talk to me. Each time I want to change the phone there is an additional £50 fee to licence it on the new phone.

I don't blame the adaptive software manufacturers for these costs, they do not have the advantages of scale that other software manufacturers have.

These are additional costs that blind people have just in order to have the same access as others do. Why do some who have provided these comments think it unreasonable for a blind person to be able to access the same things as them!

My current gripe about access is on the Sky EPG, which is totally inaccessible and there seem little evicdence that Sky are planning to change that. Sky do, however, supply quite a lot of audio description on some programs which do make them easier to follow.

So, the message is, please consider the needs of all when designing any piece of technology.

Even blind people like to keep up to date!

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Level Playing Field?

Absolutely right thyere, but is this not down to the platform that you are using to provide the necessary access ability for you to get the correct service that you need?

For a one person development company the demographic representation of disabled is a minute fraction that has no real impact on my revenue for the amount of time that I would have to spend on meetiong standards for everyone and everything.

This should go back on the platform providers and not the software on that platform to provide the appliction provider to make sure that their platform has the necessary software for disabled users.

This way you dont have to spend the extra money on extra software for your particular platform as the software megaliths already have the resources included which make it easier for the minnow application companies to use and integrate and provide a better service.

Am I barking mad?

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Everyone should have the right to refuse business

"Why do some who have provided these comments think it unreasonable for a blind person to be able to access the same things as them!"

I can't speak for the others, but here's my take ...

It's not that I think apps should be inaccessible. There is a very good moral case for saying that developers *ought* to invest a bit of extra effort to make their applications and websites accessible to the broadest range of people. Sometimes this makes good business sense as well.

My point is that it is wrong for the government to *mandate* accessibility. It doesn't matter whether we're talking about websites, iPad apps, subtitles, wheelchair ramps, or seeing eye dogs, and it doesn't matter whether the company in question is large or small. Everyone should have the right to refuse business, at any time, for any reason. Muslim restaurant owners should be allowed to refuse business from customers with dogs. Christian B&B owners should be allowed to refuse business from homosexuals. Gay clubs should be allowed to refuse entry to straight people. Prostitutes should be allowed to refuse ugly, smelly people (or anyone else they'd prefer not to do business with).

Nobody has a right to someone else's services. To argue otherwise is to argue for slavery. Hacking out accessible apps at a keyboard isn't as grim as picking cotton, but the principle is the same: labour should always be chosen, never forced.

Equality cannot be legislated, and compulsion undermines compassion. In a society based on voluntary exchange, I think you'd see more tolerance and more genuine sympathy, with people taking responsibility for their own actions.

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@ Suboptimal Planet

Can I just shorten that to Suboptimal? Thanks.

I am sorry that you feel you are being pressed into 'slavery' (sounds like someone's learnt a new word) by the government asking you to make your no doubt award-winning life-changing software accessible but that is the nature of the society you have chosen to live in. Here in the UK we look after our own and if that means working a little harder then that's a sacrifice I, for one, am willing to make. Mind you if you don't agree with the general feeling of the country you're in then you know where the doors are.

As someone pointed out earlier good accessibility isn't too hard if you design it in from the start but then I guess that's the difference between a proper engineer and...well, you get the point.

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@ Chilli

Spoken like a true socialist.

The UK wasn't always like this. You shouldn't expect believers in freedom, individual responsibility, and voluntary exchange to flee the country just because you and your 'progressive' friends have managed to push through some shockingly illiberal legislation in recent decades.

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Troll

Dear Suboptimal

Socialist? It's rare I get called that.

To be honest I see designing stuff to be accessible to people with disabilities to be in line with the (apparently very British) ideals of sportsmanship and fair play. Not all that new but then maybe I'm just an out-of-touch idealist.

As a few people are pointing out you can make things a lot more accessible very easily with a few basic principles so when people throw their arms in the air and complain about the unfairness of it all then it makes me wonder if they've read the guidelines at all. You'd design your site to work on different browsers but not for people with different needs?

Besides, if it means there are less web developers out there that think that white text on grey is readable or that their five minute flash-based intro to a site is fun and entertaining then it can only be a good thing.

Troll icon cos I can't decide whether to keep winding the handle or just accept that "believers in freedom" have far more energy and bile then I can muster.

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@Captain Caveman

Much of the accessibility software is pretty good but it does need to be able to pick out the information.

A screenreader cannot describe a picture and should not have to try to do character recognition on a button. The inclusion of an alt tag just gives it the info it needs. Proper use of header tags means screenreaders can serve these up to a user to navigate by and some screenreaders allow users to easily flick through the links on a page so putting links on meaningful words and phrases saves a blind user from hearing a long list of "Click here"s.

Using clear and concise English can help BSL users for whom English is a second language or people with a cognitive impairment but this is only generally necessary on pages of information such as terms and conditions.

Generally it doesn't require a major overhaul as much as a few tweaks.

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Fair play

Chilli,

We agree that people ought to make their websites accessible.

We agree that well designed websites that adhere to W3C standards and avoid frivolous Flash naturally tend to be more accessible.

We agree that professional pride can be sufficient motivation for accessibility, independent of commercial and moral considerations.

We agree that Britain has a long and noble tradition of 'fair play' and charitable spirit.

Where we disagree is that you think people should be compelled by force of law to make their websites and applications accessible, whereas I think they should do it of their own free will.

Such an appetite for coercion is the antithesis of British fair play. It is an attitude more closely associated with 'ze Germans' of yore.

I respectfully suggest that all of the bile and intolerance is coming from your direction.

No work should be forced, no matter how noble the project.

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Badgers

hmm...

I'm afraid I disagree that professional pride is sufficient motivation as shown by the raft of needlessly inaccessible websites out there. Nor is the "spending power of disabled people" a valid argument. To misquote a famous Irishman "He who first turns to legislation admits that all other ideas have run out".

Bear in mind we are talking about websites offering goods and services and the freedom to needlessly discriminate against disabled people is not one I recognise (I work in the charity sector so, I'm afraid, I do have a bit of an axe to grind).

Regardless I think we need to agree to disagree. There are many more valid comments being made in this forum which I would hate to detract from and I think any argument should end at the first invocation of 'Godwin's Law' (I have some very nice German friends, none of whom display an "appetite for coercion").

Fare thee well Suboptimal and please feel free to have the last word,

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Pint

positive and negative freedoms; my last word

Chilli,

I agree that we've taken this as far as we can, and I'm glad we can finish on a relatively civil note. I can only recommend that you read up on the difference between positive and negative freedoms. I believe that only the latter are legitimate, whereas you seem to think there's a place in British society for the former (aka entitlements).

http://suboptimalplanet.blogspot.com/2009/10/libertarianism-freedom-to-vs-freedom.html

One who cannot see,

Most people regard our current Health and Safety culture as a Bad Thing. Even those who are sympathetic to nanny statism recognise that things have gone too far.

As for car manufacturers, I believe they would be quite happy to include seatbelts and airbags in response to customer demand, for competitive advantage, or out of a sense of moral duty, in the absence of government regulations. Volvo and others have a record of introducing safety innovations well ahead of government regulation.

Your enthusiasm for restriction of "language used on web sites" is especially frightening. People *ought* to be polite, and businesses will naturally refuse the custom of louts who disrespect their fellow customers, but there are no grounds for government involvement in this sphere -- nobody has a right not to be offended.

Fundamentally, I believe that the government's obligation to "provide a safer and fairer society" extends only so far as defending citizens against aggression, and providing this defence equally for all, without fear or favour.

That means no privileges for aristocrats, and no bailouts for banks, but I'm afraid it also means no forced labour, however small, for the sake of accessibility.

I'll sign off with a pint; enjoy them while you still can :-)

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Level Playing Field

In many cases the additional effort is minumal. It could just be putting alt-tags on all objectss, making better use of headings and avoiding putting text on a screen as a picture rather than as text. If this were done universally then the vast majority of sites and htlm would be accessible. It really is not a big deal if done from the outset of design.

I am not a Mac user and so cannot comment on their voice-over application. While MS Windows does ship with Narrator installed in it this is not adequate for full access to the screen; too many parts are not voiced. From my point of view only a fully fledged screen reader will suffice on a PC.

While 508 and DDA has helped to give some backing to the lobby for gaining screen access a lot was being done voluntarily before these became mandatory. All it really takes is for the developer to investigate how little extra is needed for that to become second nature to the design. It really should not be the big additional cost some seem to think.

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I agree

A lot of what makes a site accessible is just good design. I think I get a small taste of what it's like to be "disabled" on the web, just because I have browser locked down pretty tight. (NoScript, etc.) Of course I can just turn all that back on if I need to, but still, it strikes me how often sites could accommodate that kind of browser set up with just tiny, tiny changes. One of the silliest things I've seen, is when they have one of those Flash-based splash pages and conveniently provide a "skip" link... inside the Flash animation.

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My final Word

Just a final word from me on this issue.

The amount of artistic temperament being thrown around under the guise of freedom of will is quite amazing.

A car manufacturer cannot produce cars without safety belts and air bags because that would reduce the cost of the car; government mandates that these should be included.

All employers have to carry out regular Health and Safety checks to protect the well being of their staff; cost is not a factor.

Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) has to be done in any environment regularly used by the public for safety reasons; regardless of cost.

Language used on web sites and newspapers needs to be written in such a way that it is not defamatory, libellous or likely to cause other legal issues. Some people may not like this, but the laws of the land, almost globally, mandate such behaviour.

A list of activities which are mandated by government in order to provide a safer and fairer society could go on for a very long time! It really comes down to which activity each of us believes that government should, or should not, be involved with. That should not be a topic for discussion here.

One contributor has stated that he agrees that web accessibility is a good thing and that he does provide it; he just wants the freedom not to do so if he so chooses.

Why? It is clear that the additional cost is minimal, when designed in from the beginning. Does that mean he deliberately wants to exclude a small minority from his site for some perverse reason?

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