Monday, February 27, 2012

Evaluating Web Accessibility with WAVE

WAVE is a free web accessibility evaluation tool found at Rather than providing a complex technical report, WAVE shows the original web page with embedded icons and indicators that reveal the accessibility of that page. This presentation facilitates manual evaluation of web accessibility. A Firefoxtoolbar version of WAVE allows evaluation of webcontent directly within the browser - thus allowing sensitive, password protected, dynamic, or intranet pages to be easily evaluated. Because WAVE performs evaluation after page styles (CSS) has been applied and (in the toolbar) after scripting has been processed, WAVE provides a very accurate representation of true end user accessibility.

Important information for Washington State Voters with Disabilities

With the 2012 elections ramping up and voting season around the corner, it is important that every citizen have the chance to be heard and their votes to count. The Washington Secretary of State Elections Division has postedinformation on their website concerning accessible voting including links ranging from how to request an accommodation or assistance for individuals, an ADA checklist for voting centers, Frequently Asked Questions regarding accessible voting, and resources for voters with disabilities. This November, all registered voters will have the opportunity to vote independently and privately for President, Governor, State Senator, ballot measures, initiatives, and candidates running for other national and local positions.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Web Accessibility Tip: Low Vision Custom Color Settings

Some users with low vision can see content more easily if the default colors are inverted (white text on a black background), customized user styles are applied (blue text on a yellow background, for example), or a custom color scheme is used. This can be done using the operating system, with screen magnification software, or with user style sheets in a web browser. To ensure web accessibility for these users, make sure your page colors have sufficient contrast, that color is not used as the only means of conveying information or meaning, and that colors are specified for page elements (typically using CSS to at least define the page foreground and background colors).

Monday, February 20, 2012

Tour Day at DSB


We are opening the doors to our Low Vision and Assistive Technology labs for hands on experience with our equipment. Please come and visit us!

Wednesday, March 28th, 2010
From 8:00 AM TO 5:00 PM (last tour at 4 PM)

Department of Service for the Blind, Seattle Office
3411 South Alaska Street, Seattle 98118

Anyone with an interest in Low Vision equipment and Assistive Technology devices for blind and low vision users. This includes schools, non-profit organziations, families, etc. Please feel free to forward this to anyone you know who may be interested in participating.

Please contact Elisa O’Neal at
206-906-5500 or
by March 22nd to schedule a tour.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Don’t Know What to Wear Today? There’s an App for That

iDress for Weather Screenshot

Knowing what to wear can be difficult in the hourly changing climate of the Pacific Northwest and as someone without a television or the inclination to listen to the radio in the morning I’m often caught out in the rain, or more accurately the drizzle, without a raincoat. iDress for Weather is an app for iOS (that’s Apple’s operating system for those of us who aren’t overly techy) which can help people determine what attire is weather appropriate by tapping into the local weather reports. You can either take pictures of your own wardrobe or use the cartoon style clip art closet of clothing. For people who benefit from prompting about appropriate clothing but may not have supports to provide that prompting in the morning, or just aren’t morning people who  want to be told what is appropriate to wear, this app has the potential to increase a person’s independence, giving  them the opportunity to make informed and independent choices about their wardrobe. For two dollars this apps can give you peace of mind that you are dressed appropriately for the day, that is, if you trust weathermen. To borrow iDress for Weather, or other prompting apps, on an iPod or iPad visit the WATAP Lending Library.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Personal Preparedness for AT Users

There is a lot to say about personal preparedness in emergencies but the messages all boil down to the same theme: plan ahead. In our recent webinar, Personal Preparedness for AT Users, we shared tips and resources from different organizations on general preparedness as well as tips for people with various AT needs. We would like to share some additional information resources that wasn't covered in the webinar. The following two links to are resources for Personal Communication Technology for Emergencies as well as Assistive Technology for Emergencies which include FCC fact sheets on communication during emergencies.
A participant of the webinar was kind enough to email us some additional resources from here in Washington State to national resources. Sight Connection has a Public Information Series including a fact sheet on Preparedness for People with Vision Impairment. Resources for seniors and people with disabilities can be found on the Red Cross website and FEMA has fact sheets to assist with preparing for disasters for people with disabilities and other special needs.
These sites can help with anything from general awareness and education about preparing for disasters to specific topics by functional need. Regardless of functional need, with education and preparation we can help energize each other and our communities to be prepared and safe in any emergency. If you have additional resources to share please post them in the comments. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Accessibility, Compliance, and Discrimination

Accessibility is about the user experience. Because a web site can always be more accessible, accessibility is best viewed as being a continuum. Web accessibility guidelines and standards (such as Section 508 and WCAG) provide useful measures along that continuum. Discrimination laws (such as the Americans with Disabilities Act or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act), however, generally do not define web accessibility, but instead clarify that web sites should not discriminate based on disability. Because standards and guidelines do not address all aspects of web accessibility, it is possible for a site to comply with a set of guidelines, yet remain very inaccessible to some users and potentially discriminatory. This is particularly true with very minimal standards such as Section 508. For these reasons, it is best to get a true understanding of accessibility and how end users access and use the web. Standards and guidelines should be used as tools and measures of accessibility, but the ultimate goal should not merely be compliance, but to provide an efficient, friendly, and accessible user experience regardless of disability.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Preparing Yourself and Your AT in an Emergency:

Join us and the Washington Access Fund on Thursday, February 9th at 10:00am for a free webinar on emergency preparedness. If a disaster struck, either large or small, how prepared would you feel? What would you do with your assistive technology and how would you replace it if it were lost? Learn simple steps you can take to prepare yourself and your assistive technology in case of an emergency. Find out about resources available, ways people can receive communication before and during an emergency and the importance of thinking ahead. There’s no time like now to be prepared for the unexpected.

For more information and to register, send an email to Leann at or give us a call at (206) 328-5116. We're looking forward to having you join the discussion!